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  3. Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) Programs and Initiatives
  4. Laboratory Capacity Building
  1. Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) Programs and Initiatives

Laboratory Capacity Building

Laboratories play a vital role in ensuring the safety and quality of the food supply. FDA is committed to working with our state, local, territorial, and tribal partners to maintain a nationally integrated laboratory science system that:

  • Facilitates the sharing of results between strategic partners.
  • Assures comparability of analytical methods and acceptability of laboratory results between partners.
  • Recommends processes to leverage laboratory resources to increase information about the food supply chain.
  • Advances initiatives among strategic partners for the use of best practices to prepare human and animal food testing laboratories for accreditation.

Accreditation can be defined as a rigorous assessment, conducted by an independent science-based organization, to assure the overall capability and competency of a laboratory and its quality management systems. This assessment results in formal recognition of the technical competence of a laboratory to perform specified methodologies. The advancement of International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17025:2017 laboratory accreditation for human and animal food regulatory laboratories is a foundational component of an integrated laboratory system. Having a network of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited labs increases the analytical capacity for FDA and results in a safer food supply.

The Partnership for Food Protection (PFP) has created a manual that addresses national standard laboratory practices and procedures to promote consistent and meaningful data from environmental and human and animal food samples. The goal of this document is to promote best practices and procedures that will ensure confidence in the integrity and scientific validity of laboratory analytical data and to facilitate the uniform acceptance of laboratory analytical data by regulatory agencies.

The Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) integrates the nation's food-testing laboratories at the local, state, and federal levels into a network that can respond effectively and efficiently to emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food. These laboratories support state, local, tribal, and territorial registered FERN labs to provide increased sample analyses in the event of food outbreaks or other large-scale food emergency events requiring surge capacity testing of implicated food samples and products.

FDA also builds laboratory capacity through a cooperative agreement with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), working in close collaboration with the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to strengthen collaboration between laboratories and promote equivalency and ISO accreditation for laboratories conducting human and animal food testing.

Additional Resources:

For more information on how FDA achieves these goals, please visit the sites below:

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