Reference laboratories

European Union Reference Laboratory for Escherichia coli

Activities & Services


The general functions and duties of the EURLs for feed and food are described in Article 94 of Regulation (EC) No. 625/2017.

These include:

Co-operation with the European Commission, the NRLs and other International Organisations 

The EURL-VTEC coordinates the network of the NRLs for E. coli in the EU and in third countries by providing update on new methods developed or validated, training, methodological guidelines, scientific update and esternal quality assessment through the organization of proficiency tests, related with the detection, characterization and typing of pathogenic E. coli.

In its central role of technical and scientific coordination a the EU level on the E. coli subject matter, the EURL VTEC provides scientific and techincal support to the European Commission and cooperates with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organisation (WHO), and with the agencies European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, as well as with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).

Methods of laboratory analysis, testing or diagnosis, including reference methods 

The competences of the EURL-VTEC are translated into the development of analytical methods for the detection, identification and typing of STEC and other pathogenic E. coli in animals, food and in other relevant matrices. Other aplications in the field include the development and validation of serological methods to detect serogroup-specific antibodies in human sera with STEC infections and for the sub-typing of STEC strains by using molecular methods.

Production and collection of reference materials  

The EURL-VTEC develops and maintain a collection of reference materials including reference strains for the different E. coli pathotroups, PCR targets, reference genomes and antigens to be used in serological assays.

Organisation of proficiency tests and ring trials  (external quality assessment –EQA) 

Proficiency tests and ring trials on detection and typing methods constitute a central activity in the EURL work programme. The EQA is dedicated to the designated NRLs for E. coli and the EU Candidate Countries but it is also open for participation to reference laboratories for E. coli in third countries. A full evaluation report of each EQA round is prepared and distributed to the participants.

Collaboration with laboratories responsible for E. coli infections in third countries  

Beside the participaton to the EURL-VTEC EQA program, training courses and stages at the EURL-VTEC are organised to provide support to reference laboratories for E. coli in third countries on detection and typing methods. The support offered includes the provision of reference materials and the implementation of monitoring programmes and epidemiological surveys in collaboration with local institutions upon request.

Technical and scientific support to the Commission and the local authorities in EU Member States  

The personnel of the EURL-VTEC can support Member States for the diagnosis of E. coli infections upon request.  Also, on specific request, the personnel of EURL-VTEC is available to support local authorities in EU Member States on field studies to face epidemic outbreaks caused by any pathogenic E. coli

EURL Services

The EU Regulation 625/2017, updating the EU regulation 882/2004, includes the principles for the designation of the reference Laboratories, including the EURL, and breakdown the activities to be undertaken in order to contribute to a high quality and uniformity of analytical results amongst the NRLs of the Member States in the Union. Following the scheme introduced by these regulations, the EURL for E. coli (EURL-VTEC) tasks include the production/validation of analytical methods, organization of comparative testing schemes and advice to the Commission and the NRLs from EU member states and third countries. Moreover, EURL-VTEC provides specific services related with the application of the analytical methods and the organisation of proficiency testing scheme, such as delivery of training, production and provision of certified reference materials and reference strains, preparation and shipment of certified samples for quality assessment for methods' validation and specific training programs. Such services may be required by compiling an online request through specific forms at the following link.  

Request a training stage or course 

Request the provision of reference materials 

To request the preparation and shipment of certified reference sample, please send an enquiry by E-mail to motivating your request and providing all the relevant background information. 

Data security and privacy are our main concerns. The information provided will be treated according to the EU Regulation 679/2016