Activities: Co-ordinating surveillance and strengthening testing capacity

The OCCL Network supports laboratories across Europe and beyond in developing their market surveillance and enhancing product testing capacity. In line with the EDQM’s mission of supporting public health protection in Europe, the work programme of the OCCL Network lays the ground for OCCLs to strengthen market surveillance and improve compliance by enhancing testing capacity and promoting cooperation, cross-border mutual assistance, information and data sharing.

In spite of the vast number of prohibited or restricted substances, only a few official methods are included in European legislation on cosmetic products. The OCCL Network provides an inventory of in-house methods and method descriptions that may be shared with other members of the network. It also performs formal validation studies for newly developed (in-house) methods or when existing methods require modification.

  • Market Surveillance Studies (MSS)

The OCCL Network organises Market Surveillance Studies (MSS) to assess the quality of selected cosmetics on the market. The topics, objectives and work programmes are defined by the members of the OCCL Network themselves on the basis of the real need they are faced to in their daily market surveillance activities. By covering practical analytical aspects, these studies allow laboratories to identify the most suitable methodologies for ensuring accurate and efficient testing.

  • PTS studies and training

Proficiency testing is an external quality control and covers the overall performance of a laboratory. This includes the entire process from reception and storage of samples, the experimental work in the laboratory, the interpretation of results. Proficiency Testing Scheme (PTS) studies within the OCCL Network are coordinated by the EDQM; they are an essential tool to demonstrate technical competence and identify scope for technical improvement.

The OCCL Network organises training sessions for its members as a way of harmonising approaches to technical aspects, sharing technical expertise among the members and addressing specific competence and training needs. Learn more about OCCLs in practice, their work and experiences.


Co-operation with other European authorities 

The OCCL network also co-operates closely with the European Commission and the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC). This makes it possible to agree on common approaches and efficient sampling strategies for effective consumer safety protection.

In 2014, the OCCL network, the JRC and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) jointly adopted a common approach for the validation of analytical test methods for cosmetics developed by individual laboratories. The resulting guidelines were a major milestone, establishing a common understanding of Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 and a harmonised testing strategy for cosmetics, based on validated analytical methods.

The OCCL network also interacts and co-operates with the Platform of European Market Surveillance Authorities for Cosmetics (PEMSAC) in order to safeguard the quality of cosmetic products in the European market.

Publications on cosmetics
Guidance

The European Committee CD-P-COS is currently focusing on ensuring participation of national OCCLs in its pan-European network and is expanding further its database of test results for childcare and children cosmetics.

What is an OCCL?

An OCCL is a public institution tasked with performing laboratory testing of cosmetics for the purpose of market surveillance. More than 50 OCCLs participate in the OCCL Network. Participation is open to member states which are Parties to the Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia of the Council of Europe and to observers/observer states.

Network membership is open to publicly funded, independent laboratories, which have implemented a quality management system as laid down in ISO/IEC 17025:2017 (or equivalent), and have suitable rules in place for sub-contracting certain types of work.

OCCLs Network members at a glance

HOW TO JOIN?

Official Cosmetics Control Laboratories in eligible member states may join the Network.

Official observers of the European Pharmacopoeia are also invited to participate in Network activities such as coordinated market surveillance studies, proficiency testing and different types of expert meetings.

To enquire about membership and projects, contact the OCCL Network Secretariat.