UKAS Gives the Go-Ahead

Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) is the first laboratory to be granted a flexible scope of accreditation by UKAS for allergen DNA testing using PCR methods. In effect, UKAS has recognised and endorsed RSSL’s competence to introduce new testing services using PCR techniques, without needing to assess every new addition to its testing portfolio. It means RSSL will be able to offer a UKAS accredited service for new allergens in double-quick time, and follows on from RSSL receiving a flexible scope of accreditation for allergen testing using ELISA methods in 2006.

RSSL currently provides an analytical service for all of the allergens on the EU list, and several other allergenic ingredients that are not on the list. DNA methods are crucial to the detection of those allergens for which ELISA kits are either not available or cannot be used, and are useful too, for example, when it is necessary to distinguish between multiple species of nut. Otherwise, DNA methods are used in complementary services such as meat and fish speciation, rice authenticity, and detection of genetically modified ingredients.

The flexible scope of RSSL's accreditation will make it quicker to get new methods under the UKAS accreditation scheme following a thorough development and validation of these new methods. It is the rigorous process of developing and validating new methods that makes this flexible scope unique. The testing supports RSSL’s allergen consultancy and training work. RSSL has established itself as the UK's premier source for advice and training in allergen management, and its laboratories offer a crucial back-up to this work, especially in cleaning validation and in crisis investigations. RSSL's scientists have been called in by many customers to help in cases of suspected product contamination, and critically, avoided unnecessary recalls when the customer's own commissioned labs have generated false positive and false negative results as a consequence of using non-validated methods.

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