In Macedonia, little-watched labs keep things honest for consumers


The government took a huge step this month regarding labs that standardise all kinds of measurements.

By Klaudija Lutovska for Southeast European Time in Skopje -- 30/01/12


The accreditations will have potentially significant ramifications for a range of products and producers. [Klaudija Lutovska/SETimes]

Two jars of pickles are arranged side-by-side on the grocery store shelf, but determining the better deal is difficult without the accurate weight of each being marked clearly on the label.

That’s where the bureau of metrology comes in, the agency in Macedonia that determines weights and measurements on everything from canned goods to cars. The bureau and its nine labs attract little attention, but their efforts mean big business.

"In industry and trade, it [means] better quality products; in terms of everyday life, [it] means increased protection of consumers," Bureau Director Dimitar Parnardziev told SETimes.

The nine national labs are responsible for very specific units of measurement. There is one each for mass, length, pressure, volume and flow, electricity, temperature, time and frequency, density, and even reference material.

On January 16th, the government accredited four of the nine: the labs for mass, pressure, volume and flow, and temperature. The rest, says Economy Minister Valjon Saracini, will be accredited soon.

He tells SETimes, "The accreditation of four laboratories will overcome technical barriers and [boost the] free flow of goods and services," by increasing confidence in the results of measurements made by the bureau.

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In a news release, the bureau noted that such accreditations would affect a range of activities including "the quality of environmental protection, general technical safety, a smooth exchange of goods and services, and proceedings before administrative and judicial authorities".

The secondary goal, it adds, is to implement relevant inspection and certification activities.

Beyond that, the metrology bureau aims to provide "efficient service to customers in a short timeframe and [at a cost] competitive [with the] international market, especially in the region and the EU".

The bureau co-operates with counterparts in the region, including the metrology institutes of Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, and Slovenia. Ahead, the bureau plans to expand co-operation with counterparts in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro.

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