In the field of food microbiology, alternative methods that have received the NF VALIDATION mark concern the detection or enumeration of micro-organisms (Listeria, Salmonella, Coliforms…) and the detection of antibiotics residues.
The NF VALIDATION mark has been widely recognised in France and is also well-established in Europe and internationally. It is a completely separate European certification system, operating differently than the technical validation systems of NordVal (inter-governmental validation system of 5 Nordic countries) and AOAC (North American technical validation system).
AFNOR Certification has adopted the validation protocol based on the EN ISO 16140 standard (protocol for the validation of alternative methods). The protocol used has been adapted to take account of the Technical Board’s own interpretations, as considered necessary.
The NF VALIDATION mark is number one on the European and world market with the largest list of methods validated according to the EN ISO 16140 protocol, for both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Due to its experience in the implementation of validation studies according to EN ISO 16140, AFNOR Certification was able to submit a significant technical contribution for the purposes revision of this standard.
NF VALIDATION’s contributions to the implementation of the EN ISO 16140 protocol include, in particular, the large number of naturally contaminated samples and the variety of matrices tested in the accuracy study, as well as the need to confirm positive samples for methods used to detect pathogenic micro-organisms.
In January 2006, the application of Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 relating to the microbiological criteria applicable to foodstuffs gave the NF VALIDATION mark a truly European standing.
In fact, the NF VALIDATION mark meets the three fundamental requirements described in article 5 of the regulation with a view to European recognition of alternative methods:
– It is issued by a third party certifying organisation (AFNOR Certification).
– It implements the validation protocol described in EN ISO 16140.
– It takes as a reference for validation study the methods described in annex of the regulation.
In France, the Directorate for food of the French Agriculture ministry (DGAL) formalised this recognition in a memo.
AFNOR Certification communicates with other validation systems in Europe and worldwide in order to establish mutual recognition between different validation systems in the future.