The FDA Electronic Laboratory Exchange Network (eLEXNET) is a secure network that allows health officials from multiple government agencies to access and analyze food testing results from state and federal laboratories.
APHL is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) to strengthen and integrate food and feed testing laboratories. Priority activities are summarized below.
National User Group
The eLEXNET National User Group (NUG) includes laboratory and IT leaders, epidemiologists and regulatory officials from FDA and state agencies. It is a resource for FDA on issues of information management, vocabulary and messaging standards and data exchange at food and feed testing laboratories.
FDA has sought feedback from the group on plans to update eLEXNET. APHL facilitates monthly calls, coordinates interactions with other committees, and acts as a liaison between the NUG and FDA.
APHL works with FDA to raise awareness of eLEXNET and its vital role in an integrated food safety system through outreach to key stakeholders. FDA and APHL have demonstrated eLEXNET and presented the work of the National User Group at the APHL Annual Meeting, the Annual Conference of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the Governmental Food and Feed Laboratories Accreditation Annual Meeting, and the Public Health Informatics Conference. In addition, APHL is helping FDA reach out to other workgroups and committees, such as the APHL Food Safety Committee, the Partnership for Food Protection and FDA's Rapid Response Teams.
APHL and FDA have developed a training program to introduce state laboratorians, epidemiologists and risk assessors to the eLEXNET system. The training entails an intensive, two-day site visit that includes meetings with laboratorians and food safety analysts plus a walk-through of the data cycle and training on the data import process, new user interface, Interactive Data Analysis Tool (iDAT) and other features. The training also addresses issues specific to a laboratory's eLEXNET system setup.
APHL and FDA piloted the training program in 2015 at four state labs and expanded the program to other states in 2016.
APHL has fielded surveys to collect information about eLEXNET use and informatics capacity among laboratories that perform food and feed testing. FDA has used data from these surveys to develop a baseline understanding of food and feed testing. Survey data have also informed strategy for the Office of Regulatory Science and eLEXNET.
APHL examined the status of food and feed testing laboratory data exchange in a
discovery document that identifies gaps in capability and suggests next steps for improving the food safety system. FDA has used this document to plan outreach activities, design pilot projects and prioritize future upgrades to eLEXNET.