In this regard, NAFDAC Laboratory accreditation is approval by American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), according to ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 for the testing of Pesticides Residues and Mycotoxins. This accreditation was conferred on the 18th of November.
Criteria for Accreditation
Laboratory accreditation uses criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence globally. Specialist technical assessors from A2LA conducted thorough evaluation of all factors including the laboratory quality management system that affected test data. The laboratory’s quality assurance of testing and technical capability was assessed based on the following:
- Technical competence of staff
- Validation and appropriateness of test methods
- Traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards
- Suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment
- Testing environment
- Sampling, handling and transportation of test items
The accredited NAFDAC laboratories therefore have been judged on the principles of capability, responsibility, scientific approach, objectivity, impartiality, measurement traceability, reproducibility and transparency.
Benefits of Accreditation
- International Trade:
Accreditation has become almost a de facto prerequisite to international trade. Lack of acceptance of laboratory test data and certification results across national borders has been identified as a significant barrier to trade. Accreditation of NAFDAC laboratories would therefore provide assurance for trading partners that NAFDAC is competent to test export food products, especially for food contaminants. At the same time, compliance with the World Trade Organization: Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) agreement thus overcoming trade barriers is assured.Section 6.1.1 of the TBT Agreement states in part that, “…verified compliance, for instance through accreditation, with relevant guides or recommendations issued by international standardizing bodies shall be taken into account as an indication of adequate technical competence.” An accreditation system can provide importing countries with a cost efficient basis to be confident in the qualities of goods, and an assurance that they satisfy the technical standards of their own regulations. In other words, results from an ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 accredited laboratory in this situation reduce the possibility of goods being denied access on the basis of inadequate conformity assessment.
- Institutionalization of Laboratory Quality Management System
Accreditation is beneficial to government and regulators and promotes good regulatory practice (GRP). Processes and activities are adequately managed resulting in an effective quality management system which is fundamental to assurance of consistency, credibility and validity of test results and services.
3. Increased Quality of Operations
Accreditation improves organizational efficiency through the reduction of waste, time utilization and streamlined management procedures.
4. Accreditation as a Marketing Tool for Developing Countries
Accreditation is internationally recognized as a reliable indicator of technical competence. National economies which have established an accreditation infrastructure are better positioned to build national and international confidence in the quality of products and services which they produce. Increased consumer confidence, especially on an international scale is likely to aid national and regional economic growth.
5. Customers’ Preference
Laboratory accreditation confers national and internal recognition and thereby promotes patronage and economic benefits to both NAFDAC and Nigeria. It gives assurance that test results are obtained using properly validated and calibrated systems by staff with the right expertise and therefore offers an easy means to customers in determining and choosing reliable analytical services.
6. Institution and Personnel Recognition
Laboratory accreditation confers high respectability both at the national and international level as an indicator of technical competence. It bestows self confidence, esteem and prestige to NAFDAC and the laboratory personnel.
7. Cost Effectiveness
The process of laboratory accreditation is regulated and standardized according to international norms with common approaches and acceptability for test reports and certificates issued by accredited laboratories, thus preventing the repetition of tests and analyses between parties/countries and reducing costs.