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Expansion of FERN Activities at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES)


Contamination of the food supply from chemical terrorism or adulteration is an issue of great concern and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) was established in direct response to this threat. The FERN goals are Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery with respect to any incident involving a threat to the safety and integrity of the national food supply. The FDA FERN seeks to directly enhance the capacity and capability of State, Local, and Tribal government’s food testing laboratories to establish an Integrated Food Safety System. Specifically, there needs to be trained personnel with the expertise, supplies and instrumentation necessary to handle the redundancy and laboratory surge capacity that will be required to respond to incidences of food supply contamination. The CAES Department of Analytical Chemistry has a 120 year history of food safety research, including ten years as a cCAP laboratory. Our performance in cCAP has directly addressed FERN goals and helped strengthen the network in several ways. We have built on and developed expertise in each FERN Chemistry Project Area, excelled at method evaluation, provided accurate and quick response to proficiency testing and surveillance samples, provided analytical insight that has enhanced existing FERN methods, communicated well with other state and federal laboratories, presented frequently at national and technical meetings on program work, extended the number of threat agents and pesticides that can be analyzed using the existing methodology and developed methods to determine additional threat agents and pesticides.<p> The current proposal is divided into four distinct Project Areas, all of which are inherently flexible depending on Forensic Chemistry Center (FCC) and FERN National Program Office (NPO) input:</p><p><ol><li> The use of GC-MS analysis for the screening and identification of poisons, toxic substances, and unknown compounds in foods. In this Project Area, we will expand our work with this methodology by validating FERN-CHE.0006.00 on the newly deployed FERN 5977A platform, investigate the new deconvolution reporting software (DRS) on this instrument, assist FDA in surveillance assignments, examine new toxins and poisons, investigate new matrices such as powdered alcohol and seafood, and continue teaching the FDA GC-MS LB508 course. </li><li> The use of LC-MS analysis for the screening and identification of poisons, toxic substances, and unknown compounds in foods. Here, we propose to validate TO22 on the newly deployed Q-Exactive High Resolution (HR) LC-MS, to explore the use of HR LC-MS (Q- Exactive, Exactive) for the analysis of pesticides/mycotoxins/chemotherapeutics in food, to examine new toxins and poisons, to investigate new chromatographic columns, to assist FDA in surveillance assignments, and to use HR LC-MS to investigate biomarkers for ricin and abrin. </li><li> The use of ICP-MS for the screening and identification of heavy metals and toxic elements in foods. We propose to complete the method validation of EAM 4.7, to investigate elemental contamination of new matrices, to assist FDA in surveillance assignments, to expand the use of LC-ICP-MS for arsenic speciation in foods, and to validate single particle ICP-MS as a method for nanoparticle detection in food. </li><li> The use of ELISA and other antibody-based analyses for the screening and identification of unknown toxins in foods. We propose to extend ELISA to new contaminants and matrices of concern, to evaluate new kits and platforms for toxins, to assist FDA in surveillance assignments and to investigate ricin and abrin stability in foods under different conditions. The explicit goal of this opportunity is to enable the analysis of food for the FDA in support of a Nationally Integrated Food Safety System. The CAES Department of Analytical Chemistry has consistently demonstrated the expertise, capability, and adaptability to fully meet and exceed these program needs and this funding opportunity will expand and optimize this collaboration. </li></ol></p>

White, Jason C
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Project number