Food defense and food safety are core functions of the Food and Drug Administration.These activities are associated with protecting the nation's food supply from intentionaltempering or unintentional contamination and to help food processors understand how and wherefood supplies could be contaminated. If left unabated, food contamination could cause massiveillness or death, or produce devastating economic impacts, or mental anxiety (consumer fear,panic, and loss of confidence in the US food supply). Food defense and safety is not onlyimportant in terms of public health but has significant economic value and impact on foodindustries and thus on the US economy. In this vain, Maryland presents significant challengesfor food protection with an intimate mix of urban and rural environments and activities. A major gap in the Nation's preparedness is the lack of a comprehensive nationallyharmonized State-based food testing accreditation capability and capacity needed to identify,screen, and monitor chemical and microbiological contamination of foods for surveillance,terrorism, or emergencies. The Laboratories Administration food testing laboratory is the state's primary servicinglaboratory for conducting chemical and microbiological food/feed analyses on behalf of theMaryland State manufactured food regulatory programs. To better address these laboratoryand infrastructure challenges, the Laboratories Administration will use this CooperativeAgreement to: (1) develop, establish, and implement a quality system that meets the managementand technical requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 with the goal of achieving laboratoryaccreditation; (2) participate in proficiency testing studies; (3) establish and maintain stafftraining, communication systems, and IT management; and (4) conduct gap analysis andrequest funding to obtain and acquire needed resources to obtain and maintain ISO17025accreditation in chemistry and microbiology testing. These efforts will lead to nationalharmonization of tests performed and data generated to support Maryland State manufacturedfood regulatory programs. Additionally, it will provide Maryland with the ability to monitorcertain imported and domestic food products that have a history of past contamination problemsor that involve security concerns for the State and the nation. The subsequent surveillanceprogram will also help maintain program proficiency and efficiency needed to ensure surgecapacity and an adequate response during a disease outbreak or an actual emergency. The Laboratories Administration further proposes to develop and maintain this programunder a timetable that would procure QA technical staff, outside consultation, equipment,supplies; develop and validate methods; train and evaluate staff for accreditation; apply andobtain ISO 17025 accreditation; participate in and maintain PT program; participate in prescribeddrills/table top exercises, plan and conduct surveillance monitoring; develop communicationsarchitecture with grantor and stakeholders, and improve access, management, and security ofinformation technology. The Laboratories Administration proposes to carry out this project in Year 1 with arequested federal budget of $300,000 and to further operate this project with a projected totalbudget of $1,200,000 for Years 2 through 5.
By this cooperative agreement, the Laboratories Administration proposes to seek ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation for food chemistry and microbiological testing to support Maryland State manufactured food regulatory programs.