SLSI: Setting progressive standards since 1964 | Sunday Observer

SLSI: Setting progressive standards since 1964

11 April, 2021

Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) is the National Standards Body of Sri Lanka, established under the Bureau of Ceylon Standards Act No 38 of 1964. The Institution functioned under the name of Bureau of Ceylon Standards until the Act was repealed and replaced by the Sri Lanka Standards Institution Act No 6 of 1984. The Institution now functions under the Ministry of Technology and is governed by a Council appointed by the Minister in terms of the above Act.

SLSI is also a member of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO members, in their capacity of National Standards Bodies, exchange on reciprocal basis copies of their National Standards. They also disseminate information on standards, technical regulations and standard-related activities to the community at the national level.

Pesticide Residue analysis using GC-MS/MS technology

Pesticide residue analysis laboratory with modern equipment facilities

Calibration of Sieves

In its role as the National Standards Body (NSB), the main function of the SLSI is formulation of National Standards and promotion of the application in industrial and trade sectors. SLSI reviews and updates the Standards to keep pace with the advancement in technology and the changes in the economy and trade. The published Standards are reviewed and revised from time to time. Amendments are also published for minor changes.

The SLSI has so far formulated about 4500 National Standards. The services of the SLSI can be divided into nine segments.

1. Formulation of National Standards

2. Product Certification

3. Laboratory services

4. Metrology services

5. Import and Export inspection

6. Systems certification

7. Training

8. Information services

9. Sri Lanka National Quality Award.

The formulation of National Standards takes place with the participation of representatives of all stakeholders such as Academia, Manufacturers, Industrialists, Researchers, Exporters, Importers, Regulatory bodies, Authorities and also Consumers.

Certain products in Steel, PVC, Cement, Food, Electric and some other categories have been identified as the products which strictly require the SLS mark. Although every product does not need to have the SLS mark, it is the most recognized symbol of quality and it offers value for the money of consumers. Therefore certain manufacturers approach the SLSI for the mark even though it is not really necessary for them.

The registered certification mark owned and awarded by the SLSI, to be displayed on products that comply with the requirements of the product certification scheme. The SLS mark on a product or commodity assures that is consistently manufactured or produced in accordance with the relevant SLS specification which leads to striving the customer expectations. The SLS mark is monitored by well qualified and experienced auditors who are experts in their fields.

The SLS mark is issued by the Product Certification Division of the SLSI. The SLSI has no authority to force the manufacturers to obtain the SLS mark. The Consumer Affairs Authority has identified seven food items and 39 non-food items compulsory for the SLS mark. Any manufacturer, whose product is not on the list, can submit an application for the certification voluntarily. The application undergoes several assessments before reaching the Permit Committee to obtain approval. In connection with a procedure in which manufacturers apply for SLS certification for their products, they are given a short period of time to comply with the procedure applicable to the SLS certification of their products. In case where their products do not comply with the applicable standards SLSI will be given a short period of time to the manufacturers to adapt the products and production processes to the relevant standard specifications. This short period is an effort to encourage and nurture local manufacturers.If the final product conforms to the relevant product standard specification after the short period of time, the SLS mark will be awarded for final product.

Once the permit is granted, the post surveillance audits take place. Permits have to be renewed when the validity period is expired.

During the initial phases, a permit is given on a six-month or one-year basis. Later it will be renewed every three years. The SLSI has its own laboratory facilities to execute the sample testing. In certain instances, the samples will be sent to outside laboratories, government or private.

The SLSI can take legal action only if the SLS mark is misused. Under other conditions such as poisonous food items, the SLSI cannot take any legal action. Taking legal action in such matters is entrusted with the Consumer Affairs Authority and Food Authority.

In issuing the SLS mark, the SLSI considers the brand as well as the manufacturer’s location. If one product is manufactured in two or several locations, each location should obtain separate permits / SLS marks. The renewal of the permit follows a rigorous inspection of previous audit reports. Once the permit is issued, the SLSI would randomly buy the samples from the market as well for testing purposes in order to check safety and quality and monitor during the validity period of the permit.

Mercury Analyser - used to detect Mercury content in food, and cosmetics

In food products, the testing is done to ascertain the existence of any contaminants and chemicals hazardous to health. Certain food items which need to be registered in the Department of Health should also conform to the Standards formulated by the SLSI. Although the mark is not compulsory for all food items, the items which need to be registered with Health Department must conform to the standards formulated by the SLSI.

In that respect, the SLSI issues recommendations to the relevant regulatory bodies such as Health Ministry, Sri Lanka Customs and the Consumer Affairs Authority. Certain products have also been identified by the Import and Export Controller for which recommendations of SLSI are needed. For instance, if a certain product fails, the SLSI conveys its rejection to the relevant regulatory body.

When designated food products are imported to the country, the SLSI officers obtain the samples from the port in order to check whether the products are conformed to the respective national standards. The samples will be sent to the SLSI laboratories. The laboratory results lead to the assessment in order to decide the safety and quality of the product. If a product is assessed as not suitable for consumption, the SLSI would convey its decision by way of a rejection letter to the regulatory bodies concerned including Sri Lanka Customs. The regulatory bodies will act subsequently.

Sri Lanka has several regulatory bodies to take actions against manufacturers of harmful food products. When it comes to the regulations of the Food Act No. 26 of 1980, the body is Food Control Administration Unit, functions under the Ministry of Health. If the overseas manufacturer can produce a valid report obtained from an accepted Accredited Laboratory in their country, the SLSI would review it and assess it for conformity with the relevant Sri Lanka Standard. If it conforms to the relevant Sri Lanka Standard, SLSI makes recommendations to the Sri Lanka Customs to release the consignment. Moreover, some manufacturers are already registered with the SLSI and this registration is considered as acceptable. However, the SLSI would inspect and obtain samples on random basis for testing purposes to ensure safety and quality. If the samples are failed, the registered manufacturer will be blacklisted.

The agreement with the WTO has been reached in order to reduce the trade barriers between countries related to imports and exports. If every consignment is to be tested, the importer will have to bear a large financial burden. That will ultimately lead to a price increase. If their products are already tested in their own country, double testing would not be necessary. However, an assessment will be performed before the release.

As for importers and manufacturers with no such valid certificate to produce, the SLSI shoulders the task of taking samples, sending them to the respective laboratory and assess the results for conformity before making the decision. As the importer is not allowed to release their product to the market until the SLS recommendation is issued, they have to stay within the confines of the port. This adds a double burden as they have to pay for occupying the space. The Sri Lanka Customs, in liaison with the SLSI, allows the importers to leave the port with a personal guarantee letter ensuring that they cannot sell their product until the final recommendation is issued.

Arc spark emission Spectrophotometer – used to analyze metal composition (Fe, Al, Zn, Cu base)

The SLSI Laboratory Services Division delivers its services in six different fields. Electrical and Electronics Laboratory, Food Laboratory, Materials Laboratory, Microbiology Laboratory, Chemical Laboratory, and Textile Laboratory.

The Microbiology Laboratory is accredited for fruit juice and beverages, tea (black and green), milk powder, ice cream, desiccated coconut, dried fish, canned fish and spices, biscuit, butter, chocolate, cheese and fat spread, yoghurt, flour (kurakkan and rice), poultry meat, sauce/ketchup, jam, jellies, marmalade, bottled drinking water, potable water, bottled natural mineral water. The Chemical laboratory is accredited for water, wastewater, fertilizer and fertilizer mixtures and porcelain tableware and ceramics. The Food laboratory is accredited for milk and milk products, edible oils, fats, and tea (black and green).

The Laboratory Services Division has two categories of customers: internal and external. The internal customers are the Product Certification Division, Quality Assurance Division and Standards Formulation Divisions. The external customers are manufacturing industries, Sri Lanka Police, Tri-Forces and Civil Security Department, Public Institutions etc.

To perform laboratory tests according to the standards, the Laboratory Services Division is comprises competent analysts, equipped with proper equipment and relevant chemicals. With all these the Laboratory performs the test according to standards. The primary duty of the Laboratory is to issue test results to the internal customers who assess and take decisions on consumer products to decide whether to issue the SLS mark or take decisions on release of imported consignments referred under the Import Inspection Scheme. It plays a crucial role in ensuring consumer safety.

The competent staff in the Laboratory constantly monitor the instruments as well as the quality of the chemicals used. It will uphold the credibility of the SLSI Laboratory test results as well as the safety of the consumer.

The Systems Certification function of SLSI plays a vital role in promoting Quality Assurance in the following sectors through operation of:

Aflatoxin test using UHPLC instrument

Heavy Metal analysis using ICP-MS/MS technology

Documentation & Information Service, and WTO/TBT enquiry point

1. Quality Management Systems Certification Scheme

2. Environmental Management Systems

3. Food Safety Management Systems Certification Scheme

4. Certification Scheme on Good Manufacturing Practices

5. Occupational Health and Safety Systems Certification Scheme

6. Energy Management Systems Certification System

7. Organic Certification Scheme.

8. Super Market Management Systems Certification Scheme

9. Vegetarian Certification Scheme

10. COVID-19 Safety Management Systems Certification Scheme

11. GHG Verification

12. Sustainably Produced Fuel Wood Certification Scheme

Some of these Certification Schemes have been accredited as well.

As an ISO 17025 accredited calibration laboratory, the Metrology Division of SLSI fulfills this national obligation by being a part of our national measurement system. The Metrology Division provides an extensive industrial calibration service, covering a wide range of measurements which are traceable to National / International Standards established through reference standards maintained by the Institution. The test/calibration reports consist of all information as per requirements of ISO 17025. This assists with maintaining quality management systems to international standards.

The Institution provides training on standardization and quality management for personnel in the industry, private/government sector organizations and individuals with a view to imparting the knowledge base required for producing good quality products/services. SLSI covers training programmes on standardization, management systems such as ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001 Environment Management Systems, ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems, ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems etc. and other Quality related fields for all grades of personnel. These programmes are conducted at client premises also on request.

The vision of the SLSI is “to be the premier national organization providing leadership to uplift the quality of life of the nation, through standardization and quality improvement in all sectors of the economy. The organization shall be a model of excellence, having a self-motivating organizational culture fulfilling the aspirations of the beneficiaries of its services as well as its employees.

- Indievara De Mel


  • Formulate National Standards required for the development of the National Economy
  • Promote the use and application of national standards in all spheres of economic and social activity.
  • Promote Quality Assurance and Quality Management in all sectors of the economy.
  • Promote and disseminate valid measurement practices at national level and provide calibration services.
  • Provide consumer education and consumer protection.
  • Educate and train industry/service personnel on concepts, practices and techniques of Standardization and Quality Management.
  • Provide test facilities and develop the National Test Capability.
  • Provide documentation and information services on standards, technical regulations and related publications and also to function as the WTO/TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Enquiry Point.
  • Participate in international and regional standardization activities to safeguard national interest.
  • Constantly develop and upgrade the institution and its services.

Basic requirements for obtaining the SLS mark permit

First, ascertain whether the Sri Lanka Standards specification is available for the concerned commodity or the product.

The product / commodity should conform to the relevant Sri Lanka Standard specification.

A satisfactory quality management system should be established and implemented.

The manufacturing process should comply with the relevant code of practices.

The applicant should agree to the general and specific permit conditions issued by the SLSI.