Skip to main content

Metrology in Chemistry and Food metrology


Specific Objectives:

1. To represent European Commission in metrology in chemistry at international measurement fora: BIPM-CCQM: participate to 2 meetings, on international metrology activities (experimental involvement in programmes, studies and comparisons) EA: improve accreditation system by interacting with EA on conceptual matters IUPAC: participate to general assembly ; prepare table for global reference values isotopic composition To create awareness and disseminate best practice in Metrology in Food & Feed (e.g. within DGs, Codex Alimentarius committees, enforcement agencies);
2. Act as EU pilot or EU contributor for critical measurement comparisons for clinical measurements and contaminants in food For clinical measurements: perform Key Comparison on Ca in human serum Contaminants in food: perform study on Hg and PCBs in tuna fish;
3. Support EU traceability disseminating organisations: Providing key reference materials to EU candidate countries and to sponsor good practice in MiC;
4. Carry out basic research in primary measurements, particularly isotopic ones: prepare isotope mixtures for a world standard for isotopic carbon measurements on CO2; contribution to the international flagship project to redetermine the Avogadro Constant. Perform silicon measurements on highly enriched silicon, develop a set of isotopic mixtures to assess linearity of mass spectrometers in critical applications: Develop novel stable isotope reference materials for human nutrition studies (e.g. Ca, Fe, Mg, Zn, Cu, Mo) in close collaboration with WHO and IAEA Provide measurements leading to global standards for isotopic composition (e.g. for IUPAC, International Geophysical Union);
5. Establishing a Metrology ERA To coordinate of the virtual institute JEPPIM (Joint European Programme for Primary Isotopic Measurements), to cooperate and integrate work programmes amongst the main metrology organisations in the area of primary isotopic measurements.

To support EU providers of reference values (e.g. NMIs, reference laboratories) to produce such values, e.g. by providing them with isotopic reference materials. To act as EC voice inside the METROTRADE and REGMET EU-networks Foster development of an EU metrology policy Provide a technical metrology network for isotope user communities in human nutrition (NUTRIMET) Providing advice to EU Candidate Countries on policy & priority setting for MiC activities;
6. To organise IMEP intercomparisons & CRL support: Initiate 1 IMEP on contaminants in tuna fish (for EA) Make feasibility study for 1 IMEP on Aflatoxins in milk powder (for EA & CRLs) Finalise IMEP-17 (trace and minor constituents in human serum) Construct a novel IMEP database, for automatic data handling in IMEP Perform an educational follow up of IMEP with EA (using IMEP-16 data): produce one corrective action educational report for all participants Interact with CRLs to address their intercomparison needs: organise two intercomparisons (topics to be decided);
7. TrainMiC: to set up and run TrainMiC: 3 meetings of TrainMiC management committee. Development modules: one completed course in PPT format on training for EA technical assessors working for accreditation bodies: 2 courses, train 20 technical assessors (minimum10 from candidate countries), train 10 laboratory staff from CRLs Awareness and training sessions organised for DG staff: 2 training sessions. Set up AcadeMiC network, to bring leading academic organisations to cooperate in these matters. One founding meeting.
Planned Deliverables:
1. BIPM-CCQM: participate to 2 meetings, 2 meetings with EA, participate to IUPAC assembly;
2. key comparison on Ca in human serum, study on Hg and PCBs in tuna fish;
3. provision of 40 materials to 6 Candidate Countries; 10 workshops in 5 EU and Candidate Countries;
4. preparation of 2 isotopic mixtures; production of 10 certificates on silicon measurements; production of 3 certificates & 1 publication on novel stable isotope reference materials for human nutrition studies; 2 publications on global reference values (zinc and calcium);
5. hosting of 2 meetings & management of 5 projects, production of 2 istopic reference materials, provision of 4 gas isotopic values, provision of draft policy on metrology to EUROMET; organisation of seminar & provision of guidelines;
6. 1 IMEP on contaminants in tuna fish, feasibility study on aflatoxin in milk powder, finalise trace constituents in human serum (IMEP-17), IMEP database, production of 1 corrective action educational report, organisation of 2 intercomparisons;
7. 3 meetings of TrainMic management committee, 1 course in PPT format via, training of 20 (10 from Candidate Countries) technical assessors from accrediation bodies, train 10 lab staff from CRLs, 2 training sessions for Commission staff, 1 meeting of AcadeMIC network.
Summary of the Action:
This action intends to strengthen the measurement science basis of European chemical measurements, which is key for the design and implementation of EC Directives. The Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the global metrology organisation (CIPM) strives towards a measurement system based on sound metrological principles, rather than sector-specific solutions. On the experimental side, the action will focus on primary chemical measurements, particularly primary isotopic measurements and isotopic reference materials, which are needed for reliable reference values (e.g. for S in fuel, electrolytes in serum, making the international isotopic measurement scales for oxygen, carbon, nitrogen traceable to the S.I.). The IRMM measurement capability will be benchmarked to its peers at the international level by participation to BIPM and EUROMET Key Comparisons. On some important issues, linked to EU Directives and linked to food & feed, it will itself act as pilot laboratory (e.g. for sulfur in fuels, electrolytes in serum, trace elements or organic pollutants in environmental samples, speciated food CRMs, dioxins or PCBs in food and pharmaceutical residues).

A needs driven metrological external quality assessment programme (IMEP) will be organised, including food & feed measurements (chemical & microbiological) particularly for the accredited and reference laboratories especially to support the Quality Assurance tasks of the Community Reference Laboratories. Where appropriate, these programmes will be linked to the Pilot Studies and Key Comparisons at the highest metrological level (BIPM and EUROMET). This will use specially prepared Certified Test Samples with undisclosed values. The specific activities will be defined by the needs of the CRLs and BIPM, EUROMET and EA (European Accreditation) initiatives. Possible examples are organic contaminants in biological materials, natural contaminants in food and feed like mycotoxins, pesticides in water. IRMM will use its own measurement capability combined with that of its metrology partners and reference laboratories, to establish metrological reference values for such IMEPs.

Where ever needed, primary reference methods and primary calibrants will be produced at IRMM and made available to the EU metrology infrastructure, particularly the networks of certifying laboratories. Where appropriate, candidate BCR CRMs will be included in the IMEP measurement campaigns eg mycotoxins in cereals, milk powder or peanut butter, trace elements or organic pollutants in environmental samples, speciated food CRMs, dioxins or PCBs in food and pharmaceutical residues. A special effort will be made to disseminate information (e.g. via the Metrotrade and Regmet networks) and to improve the awareness and understanding of measurement science issues (e.g. in the context of Codex Alimentarius Committees). Special training courses will be developed in metrology for food laboratory practitioners as well as for non-technical staff that needs to deal with such issues (e.g. from regulatory environment or enforcement agencies). Such training will be made available for EU candidate countries and for Mediterranean countries. All these activities will be carried out within the framework of the Metrology ERA where IRMM plays a leading role amongst its peers. IRMM will assist the development of this Metrology ERA, particularly by providing its services to integrate the various metrology in chemistry activities of the individual Member State National Measurement Institutes (NMIs). An example is the Joint European Programme on Primary Isotopic Measurements. IRMM will foster the development of an EU metrology policy within the Commission and with the Member State NMIs with the aim of imbedding good metrology practice into Community Directives and regulations, IRMM will provide technical and measurement-policy advice and training to DGs, Member States and Candidate Countries NMIs, public authorities. Rationale IRMM as the metrology institute of the European Commission and signatory of the CIPM-MRA, represents the Commission in the global body responsible for establishing and maintaining a reliable measurement system, the BIPM.

This position of authority brings with it obligations, but enables the Commission to steer major international developments in this area in directions where the Commission has an interest. IRMM acts as the JRC metrology gateway. The IRMM has been an active member of EUROMET for more than 10 years and has many active collaborations with the EU National Metrology Institutes. Furthermore, IRMM plays a leading role in Metrology in Chemistry activities The aim of this action is to develop and support (both technically and on measurement policy) the EU chemical measurement infrastructure, by fostering integration of activities at the technical measurement level, by fostering awareness and giving advice & training on metrology issues (DG & public authorities), by strengthening the interaction between standardisation- accreditation-education on measurement issues in chemistry. It will also construct a solid basis to food & feed measurements, by introducing metrological principles in measurement systems of varying complexity, both for the experimental measurements as well as for the dissemination of that information within the measurement community and within the end-users of such data (e.g. inside DGs, enforcement agencies, control bodies).

Field of science

  • /medical and health sciences/health sciences/nutrition
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/inorganic chemistry/inorganic compounds

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements
B-2440 Geel