AFBI Awarded UK National Reference Laboratory Status for Marine Biotoxins

Date published: 07 August 2017

Area of Expertise:

AFBI were recently awarded the UK National Reference Laboratory contract for marine biotoxins (UKNRL-MB), following a successful tender for the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) contract. AFBI have been delivering NRL services on behalf of the agency since 2008. The team is headed by Dermot Faulkner, AFBI Chemical and Immunodiagnostic Sciences Branch (CISB) based at Veterinary Sciences Division.

Filter-feeding bivalve molluscs (shellfish) can accumulate naturally occurring biotoxins produced by certain marine algae.  Consumption of shellfish contaminated with these marine biotoxins can lead to human food poisoning.  European Union (EU) Regulations stipulate that bivalve molluscs for human consumption are regularly monitored for biotoxins and lay down the maximum permitted levels of these toxins in shellfish placed on the market. 

NRL activities that AFBI undertake include the provision of impartial advice on scientific and technical issues relating to marine biotoxin and phytoplankton monitoring to the FSA and UK Official Control Laboratories (OCLs).  Responsibilities include chairing meetings with the FSA and UK OCLs; participating in EU Reference Laboratory working groups; maintaining ISO 17025 accredited reference methods and collaborating in the development or assessment of new methods for the detection of marine biotoxins.  The first UK network meeting under the new contract took place on the 21st June 2017, hosted by the FSA at its headquarters in London, with Dermot Faulkner and Hugh McEneny representing AFBI as NRL.

If you like to find out more about the importance of marine biotoxin monitoring or the work of the NRL please read this page

Notes to editors: 

AFBI carries out high quality technology research and development, statutory, analytical, and diagnostic testing functions for DAERA and other Government departments, public bodies and commercial companies.

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