The objective of this proposal is to continue our laboratory's involvement in the FERN CAP. This will enable us to continue with the analyses of foods and food products in the event that there is a chemical food contamination incident that potentially compromises the safety of our nation's food supply. We will be participating, as needed, in the development and expansion of methods designed to screen a variety of food matrices for diverse and potentially harmful chemicals, including unknown compounds, using GC/MS, LC/MS, ICP/MS and ELISA methodologies. Laboratory personnel will participate in training exercises designed to assess the ability of FERN to respond to various contamination scenarios, participate in national and regional training conferences, and assist with the validation and expansion of existing FERN methods. The laboratory will participate in an evaluation of our existing quality assurance/quality control program and address any deficiencies identified. Our quality program will be tested via our participation in FERN proficiency exercises. Specifically, the objectives that will be met include: ? Training of laboratory personnel in FERN analytical methodologies ? Participation in national and regional FERN training opportunities ? Provision of analytical expertise to the improvement, expansion and validation of existing FERN methods ? Assistance with the development of new FERN methods as the need arises ? Participation in FERN proficiency test programs ? Maintenance of existing FERN equipment ? Collaboration with other FERN laboratories to ensure the effectiveness of the FERN program ? Participation in response or surveillance exercises as the need arises ? Effectively communicate with other FERN laboratories via the use of eLEXNET
This project is designed to protect the U.S. food supply from accidental or intentional chemical contamination though the development of broadly based analytical screening methodologies. Matrices of concern are diverse and include vegetables and fruit, juices, grains and grain products, fish and fish products, milk and other dairy products, infant formula, baby foods, bottled water, condiments and alcoholic beverages. Analytical systems utilized include gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS), inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy - mass spectrometry (ICP/MS) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). The project will also allow for the development and maintenance of a qualified workforce in the various methodologies to effectively and knowledgeably respond to a contamination incident and the continued availability of laboratory investigative and surge capacity and an ability to effectively recover from a food contamination incident.