Proficiency testing as a tool to assess quality of data: The experience of the EU Reference Laboratory for chemical elements in food of animal origin

Angela Sorbo, Maria Ciprotti, Andrea Colabucci, Marilena D'Amato, Marco Di Gregorio, G. Fornari Luswergh, Anna C. Turco, Laura Ciaralli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quality and reliability of analytical results are, in general, key issues for all laboratories but become a top priority for laboratories accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025:2005. In this international standard the proficiency testing (PT) is regarded as a means to assure the validity of results. Nowadays, the proved competence of laboratories is an essential requirement especially for that structures that are involved in the official controls aimed at ensuring the safety of EU food products and the public health. To guarantee the EU consumers, the Council and the Commission have designated 28 European Union Reference Laboratories (EURLs) for food and feed, whose main role is to contribute to the standardization of analytical methods and to the harmonization of performance among the EU National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) to reach a comparable level of quality in the analytical data among all Member States. With this aim, the organization of PTs is a task that each EURL has to accomplish. Over the last 15 years, the EURL for chemical elements in food of animal origin (EURL-CEFAO) have organized 32 PTs on determination of total As, Cd, Pb and total Hg in meat, milk, fish and offal for the benefit of its network of NRLs. Some specific aspects of this activity will be discussed (e.g. preparation and characterization of PT materials, statistical evaluation of data, follow-up actions). Finally, based on the EURL-CEFAO experience, it will be demonstrated that the participation into PTs on a regular basis can result in an improvement of the laboratory's performance as well as in the harmonization of the results submitted by participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-390
Number of pages8
JournalPure and Applied Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020


  • chemical elements
  • Eurasia 2018
  • European Union Reference Laboratory
  • interlaboratory comparisons
  • maximum level
  • proficiency testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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