Telling gold from copper: new EU trademark for reference materials

May 11, 2004

Brussels, 10 May 2004

The world's largest Analytical Fair and conference, being held in Munich on 11-14 May, will see the launch of a new European trademark for reference materials for chemical and biological measures.

The European Reference Materials (ERM®) seal will provide a quality assured system for measuring chemicals and biological elements in food and other products. The system will for instance help detect forged coins, measure the level of sulphur in fuels and detect genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The ERM® trademark will help boost public confidence in food consumption, health-care, environmental protection and fair commerce by ensuring European measurements are based on reliable reference materials. The first 130 ERM®s will be presented at the Munich conference.

"This initiative will create a European brand of Reference Materials (ERM®s), owned by the EU, and accepted and recognised across the world for their high standards. ERM®s will also contribute to the emerging European Research Area through collaboration between leading organisations in this field. The ERM trademark will be instrumental in identifying Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) at the European level. Joint efforts in CRM production and dissemination will significantly strengthen the European market."

New trademark opportunity for Europe

The ERM® concept will help for instance to support European Union legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The reference material trademark will help uphold the EU's GMO legislation, which is among the strictest in the world. A range of ERM®s have been developed to also support measurements related to environment and health, with a specific focus on developing reference materials for low sulphur fuels. In order to reduce environmental pollution, the level of sulphur in fuels is being progressively reduced by European legislation. In collaboration with the oil and petroleum industry, the ERM® partnership is developing a range of materials to help analyse sulphur content at the lower levels, thus supporting corresponding environmental regulations.

Different kinds of metals and alloys will also be introduced as Certified Reference Materials (CRMs). Two of the newest materials that fulfil the ERM® quality criteria are based on the alloys used for the production of the new Euro coins. Compliance with the legal specifications for these alloys is key to checking the coinage and identification of coins in vending machines. The reference materials are thus important instruments for coin producers to ensure the quality of their products and the accuracy of their specifications.

European co-operation developing international guidelines

Three major European organisations have joined forces to create a new level of European co-operation. These include the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM), which is a department of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, the United Kingdom's Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) and Germany's Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM). CRMs bearing the new ERM® trademark will fulfil international guidelines based on guidelines defined at the international level by the "Bureau International des Poids et des Mesures". The initiative is expected to expand as the number of signatories increase. It will seek to integrate other European CRM producers that prepare, certify and handle CRMs.

ERM® benefits

Robust peer-reviews of CRMs by the ERM® Technical Board will ensure the highest quality and reliability are achieved in measuring procedures. Full transparency as part of the certification principles and evaluation report will provide valuable insights to help analysts fully benefit from using the material. Clearly defined guidelines will ensure the applicability of the materials to the respective analytical problems.

For further information please visit:

http:///www.erm-crm.org/

DN: IP/04/623 Date: 10/05/2004

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