An agar plate is swabbed for samples to be used in food safety testing. Photo by Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services
APHL, in collaboration with the Association of Food and Drug Officials and the Association of American Feed Control Officials, is supporting food and feed testing laboratories to achieve, enhance or maintain accreditation to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. Widely considered to be the gold standard in laboratory accreditation, ISO/IEC 17025 ensures the integrity and accuracy of testing, and the traceability and accountability of results submitted to food regulatory agencies for enforcement actions.
The accreditation initiative was launched in 2012 with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding of the associations and 31 state laboratories that perform food safety testing under the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards. FDA followed in 2015 with funding for an additional six food laboratories and 20 feed laboratories working under the Animal Feed Regulatory Program Standards. Resources are provided under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA), which aims to build an Integrated Food Safety System that promotes collaboration among food safety agencies at all levels of government.
Resources, Training, Technical Assistance
APHL develops resources and training for governmental laboratories pursuing ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation under the FDA agreement. The association also provides direct assistance to member laboratories seeking accreditation outside of the FDA funding mechanism. To date, two of the APHL-supported laboratories — the Arizona Department of Health Services, Bureau of State Laboratory Services and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Laboratory — have achieved accreditation.
Below are some of the accreditation resources provided by APHL:
Food and Feed Accreditation Resource Site: Over 200 peer-submitted documents on accreditation including laboratory best practices, standard operating procedures, templates and sample work plans.
Discussion Board: A forum for laboratory professionals to exchange information concerning the accreditation process.
Training Resources: 10 webinars and links to archived trainings from APHL and Governmental Food and Feed Laboratory Accreditation meetings.
Free Webinar on Changes to ALACC Guidelines: Section-by-section interpretation of changes to the ALACC Guidelines, which are closely aligned with general ISO/IEC 17025 requirements. Many food testing laboratories are accredited to this standard. In collaboration with AOAC International, APHL delivered the webinar within days of release of the guideline changes; in just one month, approximately 30 laboratories had viewed the program. Available on demand now.
Beyond its work with FDA, APHL is assisting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a pilot project to accredit five infectious disease laboratories as part of quality community building within the agency. To date, APHL has facilitated discussions and site visits to laboratories nationwide and shared its resources.
For more information, contact Kirsten Larson, MPH, manager, Food Safety, 240.485.2759,