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Presentation and main activities



With its letter of 7th March 2007, pursuant to article 33 of EC Regulation 882/2004, the Ministry of Health designated the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale” as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Listeria monocytogenes, making it responsible for the coordination and standardisation of official national laboratory activities in this area.

Regulation 882/2004 requires NRLs to comply with the specified requisites for official laboratories and defines their functions and duties in their area of competence, establishing that they must:

  • Cooperate with the Community Reference Laboratory located in Paris at the AFSSA (Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments), which coordinates European research into  Listeria monocytogenes, providing the NRLs with details on the reference methods; -          Coordinate the activities of the official national test laboratories, pursuant to article 11 of the Regulation;
  • Organise ring trials among the official national laboratories as necessary and ensure their adequate follow-up;
  • Ensure the transmission of information provided by the CRL to the competent authority and official national laboratories;-          Offer scientific and technical assistance to the Competent Authority for the activation of coordinated control plans adopted in line with article 53 of the Regulation;
  • Carry out other specific duties in line with the procedure described in article 62 of the Regulation. 

Specifically, the NRL offers technical support for epidemiology studies and epidemiological monitoring by analysing Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from production environments and foods. The bacterial strains are tested for their resistance to antimicrobials, serotype and degree of similarity, using molecular techniques. A recently-launched project will also give the NRL the task of managing a national information system to disseminate and exchange information on the molecular typing of  Listeria monocytogenes strains: the molecular profile of strains isolated in Italy will be collected and archived at the NRL for molecular epidemiological studies.