Since 1999, the Food Safety Laboratory (FSL), Center for Animal Health, Food Safety, and Biosecurity (The Center) at New Mexico State University (NMSU) has worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Field Science on a variety of food safety and defense assignments. We are tasked by FDA to evaluate, analyze and validate rapid test methods. We have improved many Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) methods and provided validation data for rapid methods that have been implemented by FDA Regional Laboratories. FDA has also distributed improvements in analytical methods to Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) member laboratories. We are directly involved in many of the FERN mission objectives. We provide laboratory outreach with New Mexico State University agricultural programs to growers and food processors. We have demonstrated experience in method development and validation. Through the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service Programs, we provide training to growers and food processors in food safety and defense. We perform regular proficiency testing and validation with BAM and new rapid test methods. When requested, we participate in surveillance activities. We are a member of the Electronic Laboratory Exchange Network (eLEXNET) Program for electronic communications. When we were selected as a FERM MCAP lab, we increased our capabilities and hope to continue to serve the FERN program in detecting and identifying threat agents in food at the local, state, and federal levels and be a service to the nation. As a FERN CAP lab, we intend to continue to: 1) Develop proficiency in the equipment received from the CAP 2) Hire an additional microbiologist to conduct analytical work alongside the existing laboratory staff 3) Obtain appropriate training for laboratory staff 4) Participate in all FDA/FERN activities as requested by the FERN National Program Office (NPO)
The NMSU Food Safety Laboratory will work towards achieving FERN objectives by ensuring that trained staff are able to participate in FERN activities such as proficiency tests, evaluation of new methodologies and analysis of surveillance and emergency outbreak samples. (1) Sample Analysis Program and Surveillance Assignments The NMSU FSL proposes to participate in the FDA/FERN sample analysis program and to conduct surveillance assignments as designated by the FERN NPO. The FSL will also analyze samples for pathogens during foodborne disease outbreaks and provide surge capacity for the FERN in the event of a large-scale food emergency event. (2) Provide Analytical Data The NMSU FSL agrees to provide analytical data for potential regulatory utilization through the use of standardized methods, equipment platforms, and reporting methods (standardized analytical work sheets and electronic results reporting). The FSL will participate in proficiency testing and method training provided by FERN NPO. The FSL will implement a standardized quality management system as determined by FERN NPO. The FSL is a member of the Electronic Laboratory Exchange Network (eLEXNET) Program. During the first microbiology cooperative agreement program, the NMSU Food Safety Laboratory submitted test results for multiple assignments through the eLEXNET and/ or through data sheets standardized by the FERN. For the current FDA tasking, FSL prepares regular detailed reports to the FDA and participates in weekly conference calls on method development, method validation and matrix extension activities. The FSL is accustomed to providing accurate, detailed reports, and publication of research results in scientific journals, presentation of research results at scientific conferences. (3) Method Development The NMSU FSL will participate in method development, method validation and matrix extension work as determined by FERN NPO. The NMSU FSL has developed, analyzed and validated rapid test methods for the FDA Office of Field Science used to detect microbial pathogens and chemical toxins in foods and other FDA regulated commodities for over 10 years. The NMSU FSL's work has helped the agency update the BAM and has deployed enhanced test methods to the FDA Regional Laboratories. This work has direct applicability to the FERN program and for both domestic food safety and food defense/bioterrorism. FDA Regional Laboratories and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) have used the improvements developed at the FSL. During the initial FERN MCAP agreement the NMSU FSL participated in proficiency tests for a range of pathogens, multilab validation studies, participated in DiversiLab exercises and surveillance assignments. We hope to continue to do so for the FERN through the FDA FERN Microbiological Cooperative Agreement Continuation Program.