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Inventory of National Practices on Standards, Technical Regulations
and Conformity Assessment in the Western Hemisphere

VI. Inspection and Testing
A. Organizations

Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda does not presently have the legislation in place for conformity assessment and testing.

In the voluntary area only the SAC exists at this time; it is cited in the section on metrology. In 1995 the Argentine Accreditation Agency was created for the purpose of accrediting certification organizations and to build a network of testing laboratories. There is a vast decentralized network of institutions that engage in inspections and testing. Of these, we highlight SENASA (animal health), IASCAV (plant health), and ANMAT (food and drugs).

There are two government agencies involved with inspections and testing. However, the activities are limited to the food sector. There are presently no accreditation systems in place, nor any certification programs for laboratories or inspection program. The Government is the operator of the inspection and testing programs. Testing and inspection performed in other economies are generally accepted.


Whilst provisions for testing and certification were made under the Standards Act of Belize, the Bureau does not as yet have testing facilities.

At present a process is under way to adopt new legislation to create the Bolivian System for Standardization, Metrology, Accreditation, and Certification. This system will be based on the actions of three main entities: the National Standardization Organization (now IBNORCA); the Bolivian Metrology Institute, which administers the National Metrological Service; and the Bolivian Accreditation Agency (currently a mixed commission made up of IBNORCA and the Secretariat for Industry and Commerce), which will accredit, among others, inspection and certification offices, testing laboratories, and calibration laboratories. This system will introduce present-day criteria for accreditation and certification and seek to guarantee the principles of transparency, technical suitability, and action by third parties.

The National System of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality (SINMETRO) set up in 1973, has as one of its objectives to provide the country with an infrastructure of technological services for quality and productivity, consisting of basically, a system of generating standards and technical regulations, of networks of calibration and testing laboratories and also a system of certification of conformity.

Brazil has a comprehensive network of inspection and testing bodies and authorities which have the capability of carrying out most work required by business and government. There are bodies in the private sector and public sector both in the areas of health care, agriculture, environment, labor, etc..

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1970 and given a mandate to, among other things, accredit organizations engaged in standardization activities. SCC operates a voluntary program for the accreditation of testing laboratories which is open to all types and sizes of laboratories covering all fields and areas of testing of products and materials. While most laboratories are private sector entities that are either independently owned or part of a larger enterprise, some government and academic laboratories provide specialty services. Over 179 laboratories have been accredited to date. SCC conducts on-site assessments of testing laboratories that apply for accreditation using published criteria, and audits accredited laboratories on a routine basis to ensure continuing compliance with the terms of their accreditation.

The process of conformity assessment is made up of compulsory mechanisms, under the initiative of the Ministers in health, hygiene and safety, and some voluntary systems, such as that administered by the National Standardization Institute.

Decree 2269/93 created the National System for Standardization, Certification and Metrology. As a result of this decree some regulatory provisions have been issued, such as:

- Resolution 140/94 of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce which lays down provisions on accreditation, certification, and conformity assessment, regulating the conditions that must be met by certification and inspection organizations and testing laboratories to receive accreditation.

- Decree 300/95, signed by the Ministers of Finance and Public Credit, Economic Development and External Trade, which establishes the procedures to be followed by importers in order to show conformity of their products with the Mandatory Official Colombian Technical Standards.

- Decree 1112/96, which creates the National System of Information on Standardization's Measures and Procedures for Conformity's Evaluation, and establishes the general criteria for the issuance of technical regulations. Signed by all Ministers related to the issuance of technical regulations.

- Resolution 547/96, of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, which establishes the compulsory registration of producers and importers of goods and services which are subject to fulfil mandatory technical standards or technical regulations.

- Resolution 343 of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce which defines the modalities of certification to demonstrate the fulfilment of the mandatory official Colombian technical standards and technical regulations.

The Testing Laboratories are accredited by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce and form the National Network of Accredited Laboratories, which currently has more than 24 properly accredited testing laboratories in different areas.

The National Institute for Supervision of Drugs and Food (INVIMA) and the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) have special responsibility for establishing the conditions that must be met by the agencies that wish to be accredited as certification agencies, inspection agencies, and testing laboratories to certify conformity in terms of food, drugs and cosmetics, plant and animal health. For the development of such activities, the ICA and the INVIMA advance work in those areas under the advise of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, establish the minimal requirements for the accreditation of the bodies and laboratories under their area of capacity, and recognize the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce as the only body of accreditation.

The Superintendency of Industry and Commerce, the ICA and the INVIMA are national in scope and financed by the Government. The agencies for certification, and for inspection, and the testing laboratories may be public or private, but are always supervised by the entities that accredit them.

Under Decision 376 of the Commission of the Cartagena Agreement, at the Andean level, work is under way to create the Andean Network of Accreditation Agencies, to win multilateral acceptance of certificates of conformity.

Costa Rica
In Costa Rica the system for accreditation of testing, inspecting, and calibrating laboratories is governed by the National Accreditation Entity (ENA), whose technical secretariat is in the National Office of Standards and Units of Measure (ONNUM). According to its charter, the ENA has as its purposes to guarantee and support the technical competence and credibility of the entities that operate in the system, and in particular to ensure the availability and enhancement of the services offered by the various entities operating in the system.


Dominican Republic

The testing laboratories are in public and private organizations and at the centers of higher education. The work of these laboratories is normally not directed to quality certification, but rather involves verification. There are testing laboratories that provide services to third persons; the laboratories are not, at this time, grouped into networks or associations of laboratories for product certification.

The Ecuadoran government is working to organize the project known as SINLA (National System of Accredited Laboratories), national in scope, and following international practice. The SINLA network will begin to operate in the second half of 1996. The inspection agencies and enterprises have testing laboratories with very limited infrastructure.

El Salvador
El Salvador does not have a conformity assessment system at this time, but a program has been launched to have such a system in the medium term. The testing and analysis methods are based on internationally recognized methods (AOAC, ASTM). Nonetheless, the country does not yet have a network of accredited laboratories.


The process of assessing conformity with technical regulations is compulsory and is performed through different government offices, based on their area of competence, namely:
- Control and Registry of Foods entrusted to the Department of Registration and Control of Foods, Division of Registration and Control of Drugs and Foods, General Health Services, under the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance.
- Control and Registry of Drugs under the responsibility of the Department of Registration and Control of Foods, Division of Registration and Control of Drugs and Foods, General Health Services, under the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance.
- Control and oversight of fuels, entrusted to the General Bureau on Hydrocarbons, under the Ministry of Energy and Mines.
- Registry of agricultural pesticides and related substances (raw materials, chemical fertilizers, natural fertilizers) under the Technical Bureau for Plant Health of the General Farm Services Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food.
- Registry of Food Products for animals and veterinary medicines, under the Department of Control of Veterinary Products, Technical Bureau for Animal Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food.

Guatemala has conformity assessment entities that publish results for a registry of products: - LUCAM (Unified Laboratory for Food and Drug Control) under the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance;
- DIGESEPE (General Animal Services Bureau), under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food;
- General Bureau of Hydrocarbons and Bureau of Nuclear Energy, both under the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Food and Drug Department has a programme of testing in place with respect to food. The National Bureau of Standards has not developed its conformity assessment programme



The Jamaican Bureau of Standards has a range of laboratories to support its standards development activities and offers testing services to industry in areas such as engineering, textiles, paints, microbiology, chemicals, food, metallurgy, paper, furniture and packaging.

Inspection and testing of imported and exported foods products which are susceptible to pest infestation is handled by the Storage and Prevention of Infestation Department. The Ministry of Health tests and inspects pharmaceuticas, and provides testing inspection under the Veterinary Public Health Departments.

The Federal Bureau of Consumer Protection (PROFECO)is responsible for overseeing compliance with Official Mexican Standards. In the case of imported merchandise subject to compliance with Mexican Official Standards at the point of entry of the merchandise into the country, the inspection is carried out by the Department of Economy and Public Credit (SHCP). The tests are carried out by the different laboratories of SECOFI's General Bureau of Standards and the laboratories it accredits through the National System of Accreditation for Testing Laboratories.

Panama does not have a national accreditation system, but is in the process of preparing a Procedural Manual for the National Accreditation System, adopting ISO 25 and EN 45000.


Peru has testing laboratories (public, private, and university) that provide services in different areas of testing and product areas. These laboratories are accredited before the Commission of Technical and Trade Regulations (CNM) of the INDECOPI in order to demonstrate their technical competence and suitability for undertaking the accredited tests. The program for accreditation of laboratories and inspection agencies is voluntary; once obtained, it confers the status of official testing laboratory.

Saint Lucia
The SLBS maintains a very keen interest in testing, certification and quality registration. However, the laboratories utilized by the Bureau are not well developed and limited testing is conducted. Efforts are being made to upgrade the resources (physical and human) in order to have local capability and competence for some testing.

Trinidad & Tobago
TTBS has a range of laboratories to support its activities in testing and certification. A National Laboratory Accreditation System is being established.

United States
The United States has a comprehensive network of inspection and testing bodies and authorities which have the capability of carrying out most work required by business and government. Most of these bodies are in the private sector, and public sector facilities may operate on a commercial basis. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for example, generally relies on private sector labs to do the conformance testing required to receive the necessary equipment authorization to market, manufacture, or import devices that generate radio frequency energy. The FCC does its own compliance testing, both before and subsequent to issuing equipment authorizations, on a spot check basis.

The United States maintains a comprehensive voluntary product certification system beyond manufacturer's inspection which includes supplier's declaration of conformance to standards, industry association verification programs and third party inspection and testing programs. These programs are basically self-policing with little or no involvement by government regulatory officials.

Laboratory accreditation is one method by which the quality and accuracy of test data is ensured. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not accredit laboratories to do FCC tests, but the laboratories must file information with the FCC to demonstrate that they are capable of making the necessary compliance measurements. The DPC/NIST has a voluntary program (NVLAP) to accredit test labs that do electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing. The EPA has a formal program for certifying the competence of laboratories analyzing drinking water for compliance with drinking water standards. FDA, in contrast, relies on its own labs to do compliance testing on foods and medical products, although private labs often provide analytical data to support a sponsor's claim that its products comply with FDA requirements. FDA does not accredit such labs, but does inspect them and audit their data for accuracy.

Most U.S. laboratory accreditation programs have been designed to meet particular governmental or private sector needs. These programs, consequently, take distinctive forms and use different sets of procedures to assure that a laboratory has sufficient competence to perform the specified testing. Laboratory accreditation programs are operated by all levels of government and by the private sector as well. There is no centralized government coordinating body.

Uruguay has a public inspection and testing system under the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay, which serves private and public needs.

The Autonomous Service, Bureau for Standardization and Quality Certification (SENORCA), established by Presidential Decree No. 2801 of February 4, 1993, under the Ministry of Development, operates a program to accredit testing laboratories and certification and inspection entities that is open to all types and sizes of laboratories, covering all areas of product and materials testing. SENORCA performs evaluations for testing laboratories that wish to become accredited, and audits already-accredited ones to ensure compliance with the terms of their accreditation. Inspections and tests are also performed by the various Ministries on a compulsory basis (per the Organic Law of the Central Administration) that act in the field of health, hygiene and safety, environment, farming, and stock-raising.

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