AFNOR Certification, a subsidiary of AFNOR Group, is the certification body responsible for granting the NF VALIDATION certification. It is an independent and competent body governed by the European and international standard EN ISO/CEI 17065.
For each certification domain (agri-food or water), NF VALIDATION certification is managed by a Validation Commission. It is a consulting body which contributes to preparation of the NF Validation certification program and its successive revisions, and ensures proper operation, development, management, protection and promotion of a NF Validation mark.
The Validation Commissions consist in representatives of all the parties, with a secretariat managed by AFNOR Certification:
- Users of alternative methods (public and private laboratories, operators of the sector concerned)
- Manufacturers/Distributors of alternative methods, French and from worldwide
- Technical organizations (technical institutes of industries concerned, safety agencies…)
- Prescribers (public authorities – agriculture, health, depending on sector-, laboratories accreditation body)
The composition is established so as to respect a balanced representation of the different parties concerned, without a single interest dominating. This composition is available on simple request to AFNOR Certification.
AFNOR Certification relies on the expertise of members of its Technical Boards for examination of all validation applications, without exception. It is a consulting body which consists in experts of the concerned domain (food or water microbiology, veterinary drug residues), some of whom have expertise in statistics. Like for the Validation Committee, members of the Technical Boards represent all stakeholders in methods validation (users, manufacturers, prescribers…). From the preliminary study project to the results of the inter-laboratory study, each application is presented to the dedicated Technical Board and each alternative method is assessed in detail.
Validation studies are conducted by laboratories called Expert Laboratories. These independent laboratories, previously accredited for the reference methods they have to implement during the validation study, are approved by AFNOR Certification, on the basis of criteria set by the Technical Board. AFNOR Certification has up-to-date lists of approved laboratories. For each study, the manufacturer of the alternative method chooses an Expert Laboratory from the lists, which must be independent from its company. The lists of approved Expert laboratories are available on simple request to AFNOR Certification.
Finally, AFNOR Certification has approved a number of auditors whose task is to carry out audits on the production site for the purposes of certifying methods or monitoring certified methods. All auditors, selected for their experience in the business sector and managed by AFNOR Certification, receive in parallel regular training through audits that they perform.
The vast international network of experts set up and managed by AFNOR Certification guarantees a thorough and detailed evaluation of each method applying for certification, both for the initial application and for renewals or extensions. The members of the Technical Board (including the reviewers and the majority of Expert Laboratories) examine many applications at every stage each year, consolidating their expertise and therefore guaranteeing the pertinence, consistency and quality of the evaluations carried out.