The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rule on Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods (LAAF) establishes a laboratory accreditation program for the testing of food in certain circumstances. Under the LAAF program, FDA will recognize accreditation bodies (ABs) that will accredit laboratories to the standards established in the final rule (referred to as LAAF-accredited laboratories).
The final rule specifies eligibility requirements that ABs and laboratories wishing to participate in the program will need to satisfy, as well as procedures for how the FDA will manage and oversee the program. In certain circumstances, owners and consignees will be required to use a LAAF-accredited laboratory for food testing. FDA will maintain an online public registry listing recognized accredited bodies and LAAF-accredited laboratories.
The establishment of the LAAF program is intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of certain food testing through the uniformity of standards and enhanced FDA oversight of participating laboratories.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who is affected by this final rule?
The LAAF final rule applies to accreditation bodies and food testing laboratories that wish to participate in the program. Their participation is entirely voluntary. In certain circumstances owners and consignees will be required to use LAAF-accredited laboratories to conduct food testing.
Does the LAAF final rule apply to all food testing?
No. Food testing, including environmental testing, is only required to be conducted by a LAAF-accredited laboratory under certain circumstances specified in the rule. For the purposes of this rule, “food” has the same definition as in section 201(f) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It includes articles used for food or drink for man or other animals except that food does not include pesticides (as defined in 7 U.S.C. 136(u)).
What testing is covered under the LAAF final rule?
After the LAAF final rule is fully implemented, owners and consignees will be required to use a LAAF-accredited laboratory for food testing:
- to support removal of a food from an import alert through successful consecutive testing requirements;
- to support admission of an imported food detained at the border because it is or appears to be in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;
- required by existing FDA food safety regulations, when applied to address an identified or suspected food safety problem (i.e., certain tests of shell eggs, sprouts, and bottled drinking water);
- required by a directed food laboratory order, a new procedure being implemented in this final rule that will allow FDA to require use of a LAAF-accredited laboratory to address an identified or suspected food safety problem in certain, rare circumstances; and
- conducted in connection with certain administrative processes such as testing submitted in connection with an appeal of an administrative detention order.
What is the LAAF program implementation timeline?
FDA will take a stepwise approach to implementation of the LAAF program. On February 11, 2022, the FDA launched the LAAF application portal (with User Guide) where interested accreditation bodies may apply for recognition the program. Once the FDA has recognized a sufficient number of accreditation bodies, the agency will announce that laboratories may apply to the recognized accreditation bodies for LAAF-accreditation. When there is sufficient LAAF-accredited laboratory capacity for the food testing covered by the final rule, the agency will publish a document in the Federal Register giving owners and consignees 6 months’ notice that they will be required to use a LAAF-accredited laboratory for such food testing. The agency may issue more than one Federal Register document as LAAF-accredited laboratory capacity is attained for various types of food testing described in the final rule.
- LAAF Fact Sheet
- LAAF Application Portal for Accreditation Bodies and Portal User Guide
- Federal Register Notice announcing the Final Rule
- Final Regulatory Impact Analysis
- Constituent Update: LAAF Application Portal Now Open
- Constituent Update: FDA Issues Final Rule for Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods