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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Report of the FELASA Working Group on evaluation of quality systems for animal units.

Howard, B., van Herck, H., Guillen, J., Bacon, B., Joffe, R. and Ritskes-Hoitinga, M.

Laboratory Animals, 38(2), 103-118 (2004).

This report compares and considers the merits of existing, internationally available quality management systems suitable for implementation in experimental animal facilities. These are: the Good Laboratory Practice Guidelines, ISO 9000:2000 (International Organization for Standardization) and AAALAC International (Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International). Good laboratory practice (GLP) is a legal requirement for institutions undertaking non-clinical health and environmental studies for the purpose of registering or licensing for use and which have to be 'GLP-compliant'. GLP guidelines are often only relevant for and obtainable by those institutions. ISO is primarily an external business standard, which provides a management tool to master and optimize a business activity; it aims to implement and enhance 'customer satisfaction'. AAALAC is primarily a peer-reviewed system of accreditation which evaluates the organization and procedures in programmes of animal care and use to ensure the appropriate use of animals, safeguard animal well-being (ensuring state-of-the-art housing, management, procedural techniques, etc.) as well as the management of health and safety of staff. Management needs to determine, on the basis of a facility's specific goals, whether benefits would arise from the introduction of a quality system and, if so, which system is most appropriate. The successful introduction of a quality system confers peer-recognition against an independent standard, thereby providing assurance of standards of animal care and use, improving the quality of animal studies, and contributing to the three Rs-reduction, refinement and replacement.