CARE: Cross-sectoral framework for quality Assurance Resources for countries in the European Union
The Project #CARE
The CARE project will focus on developing new One Health concepts for proficiency testing (PT) of laboratories, reference materials and quality/availability of demographic data.
PT testing, or external quality assurance (EQA) schemes, is an integrated part of quality assurance management for laboratories within the field of human, food, and animal microbiology. The aim of CARE is to develop new proficiency testing schemes that can be used cross-sectorally and thereby used to evaluate the capacity to manage foodborne problems from a One Health perspective
Reference materials (RM) for microbiological analyses on zoonotic pathogens are available in the context of reference laboratories (e.g. EURL’s). There is no EU level combining the reference collections linked to specific reference functions and sectors. Characterisation of epidemic strains, antibiotic resistances, and virulence markers have progressed from culture-based methods to molecular fingerprints. Phenotypic and genomic data must be coupled for checking authenticity of RM and promoting their use as control strains. We will aim at providing insight to available and desirable RM, identifying sources of both strains and genomic data, including the field of antimicrobial resistance, provided by reference laboratories and other relevant sources such as online repositories and national collections.
Europe, due to its long tradition of preserving the microbial diversity has an important reservoir of strains maintained in culture collections and in microbial Biological Resources Centers (mBRCs). Nevertheless, the supply of these resources and associated data is highly fragmented among the Member States. This constitutes a large barrier for users who must (i) consult different information systems with heterogeneous data and (ii) contact several collections or mBRCs to access the wide range of resources. The provision of reference strains is an essential component for the research, the advancement of life sciences, the support of the biotechnology sector and the further development of the bio-economy. In particular, regarding the zoonotic and foodborne pathogens, there is a need to make easily visible and accessible the offer of Reference strains for validation methods and PT. We will focus here on the visibility of the reference material and data associated for the scientific community. The emphasis will be on the availability and sustainability of this reference collection in order to contribute to the long-term needs of the European research. We also aim to disseminate more widely the information about the accessibility not only of the reference collection but also of CARE partner microbial collections.
At EU or national level, risk assessment and management are highly dependent on the availability and quality of data on animal populations, food and feed consumption. The quality and availability of the demographic data including those for food consumption for risk assessment differs between countries. We will further assess the quality and availability of the demographic data and focus on how to improve and make the data better by raising awareness of EU authorities collecting and organising demographic data.