Severity Classification

The EU Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes states that all procedures are to be classified into categories according to their severity (Article 15). This webpage lists resources designed to aid this process.

An overview of published systems for severity classification

Norecopa has constructed an overview of systems currently in use in Europe for severity classification of techniques and procedures. The overview will aid identification of areas where more research is needed, and will stimulate discussion so that additional information is submitted. This will hopefully lead to the refinement of the criteria used for severity classification. This work is the result of a collaboration between Anne Zintzsch (ICAR3R, Giessen), to whom comments should be sent; Jan-Bas Prins (Leiden University Medical Centre and the Francis Crick Institute); Nicolaos Kostomitsopoulos (Centre of Clinical, Experimental Surgery and Translational Research, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens); and Adrian Smith (Norecopa).

Severity classification in fish experiments

In September 2009, Norecopa arranged an international consensus meeting entitled Harmonisation of the Care and Use of Fish in Research. A consensus document was issued after this meeting, where the participants concluded, among other things, that a working party should be appointed to produce a report on the severity of procedures used in fish research, complementary to the EU guidelines for the severity classification of procedures.

The working group finished its report in December 2010. It was published under Open Access thanks to sponsorship from Laboratory Animals Ltd.:

Hawkins et al. (2011): Guidance on the severity classification of scientific procedures involving fish: report of a Working Group appointed by the Norwegian Consensus-Platform for the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experiments (Norecopa). Laboratory Animals, 45:219-224. doi: 10.1258/la.2011.010181


Severity classification og fish procedures







A poster describing the severity classification of procedures involving fish was presented at the 8th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences, held in Montreal 21-25 August 2011.
The poster may be downloaded here, with permission from the organisers.

The experience of recent years shows that severity classification is still insufficiently harmonised within the EU. Even among experts, animal procedures are often evaluated very differently. Consistent severity assessment and classification of procedures are essential for the ethical review process, and an indispensable part of planning, refining and evaluating animal experiments. Annual statistics of animals used in scientific research are intended to inform the public about the harms inflicted. Severity classification plays a crucial role in this process, and increased harmonisation should be sought.

Other resources:

This page was updated on 05 July 2023

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