RESEARCH &RELATED Other Project Information No. 7 Project Summary Abstract The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Division of Laboratories provides testing of food for microbiological contamination to protect the public's health. The US FDA Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) has a similar mission on a national scale in which Illinois and other states have over the past three years participated in an effort to build response capability to large scale food safety emergencies. The laboratory has benefited greatly from participation in the FERN Microbiological Cooperative Agreement Program (MCAP) by expanding both testing capabilities and capacity. Participation in FERN MCAP has allowed the laboratory to add rapid test methods and instrumentation to testing capabilities and has taught the laboratory how to prepare for and test large number of samples received simultaneously. In addition, participation in FERN MCAP has improved the laboratory's quality system and documentation. The IDPH Laboratory has become part of a network of food testing laboratories that is building capability and capacity using standardized methods and equipment and will be able to work together during wide-scale threats to the safety of the food supply whether naturally-occurring or intentional contamination. The three key project areas of this grant are (1) participation in FDA/FERN sample analysis;(2) generation of analytical data for potential regulatory utilization;and, (3) participation in small-scale method development, method validation and matrix extension. Participation in each of these areas will provide IDPH with resources to further improve its testing capabilities and capacity for food testing within Illinois and provide surge testing as needed for multi-state outbreaks. The laboratory will continue to use methods already in place such as traditional culture and biochemical identification, serotyping, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The laboratory would use the resources from this grant to implement testing for additional organisms and to expand the use of rapid-response testing to increase throughput and improve outbreak response time. Specifically, the laboratory would use grant resources to upgrade instruments to increase testing capacity and develop molecular testing using isothermal and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PRC). The laboratory would also use the resources of this grant to continue to participate in proficiency testing and improve its quality management system. The IDPH Laboratory looks forward to continuing as part of FERN for the next three years.
Through continuing participation in the Food Emergency Response Network - Microbiological Cooperative Agreement Project (FERN-MCAP), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Laboratory will develop increased testing capacity and capabilities using standardized methods and equipment to perform testing whenever the safety of the food supply is threatened by either natural or intentional contamination. Joining with other FERN laboratories in times of crisis, a nation-wide response to a food safety emergency will be available to protect the health of the residents of the United States. Results generated by this response will be used to improve the regulation of the food and lessen the possibility of future food safety threats.