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Fda Fern Cooperative Agreement Program


Project SummaryLarge scale events like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion of 2010 and infant formulapurposely fortified with melamine in China cause great concern and heighten the level of awarenessof the importance of food safety. Local, state, and national response mechanisms are in place toquickly respond to these situations and help mitigate unforeseen consequences while protectingpublic and environmental health. Unfortunately, response assets at every level can quickly becomeoverwhelmed and may require surge or redundant capacity. The Food and Drug Administration FoodEmergency Response Network (FDA FERN) is one system in place that is comprised of both federaland state laboratories that bring personnel, supplies, equipment, and expertise together to enablefood and food product analyses during these situations. Many laboratories are volunteer laboratories,but 14 member laboratories have entered cooperative agreements for chemistry analysis and arenow referred to as FERN cCAP Laboratories. The Arkansas Department of Health-Arkansas PublicHealth Laboratory (ADH-PHL) became a FERN cCAP Laboratory in 2009 and has built a strongfoundation for food chemical analyses, method development, and emergency response.ADH-PHL provides a state-of-the-art laboratory environment for maintaining the Arkansas FERNChemistry Laboratory. Dedicated laboratory space, technical expertise, quality management systems,ISO 17025 accreditation as well as additional support staff, instrumentation, and space are availableif necessary. The entire laboratory staff has experience in the four key project areas of GC-MS, LC-MS, ICP-MS, and ELISA. ADH-PHL also partners with other federal response networks managed bythe Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency where ADH-PHL hasexercised and utilized the Incident Command Center within the state as well as nationally. Thisknowledge is crucial for mitigating large scale crises where food safety and human health isendangered.The Arkansas FERN Chemistry Laboratory continues to work to expand and enhance the capabilitiesof FERN by working closely with other cCAP laboratories and FDA. The laboratory is fully staffed,continues to cross-train, and validates FERN testing methods on GC-MS, LC-MS, ICP-MS, andELISA platforms. The laboratory continues to participate in all proficiency tests provided by FDA andhas exercised its response capabilities by developing new methods to successfully participate inthese proficiency tests. The laboratory participates in all technical and programmatic meetings, whichincludes conference calls. Currently, FERN analysts are actively involved in two, large, multi-laboratory method validations. In the past, the laboratory has analyzed numerous food matricesincluding powdered milk, freeze-dried tuna, spinach, mandarin oranges, pineapple juice, chocolatesyrup, soy-based baby formula, snack cakes, energy drinks, drinkable yogurt, salad dressing, catfish,spirits, snow peas, applesauce, cottage cheese, brown sugar, bottled water, cereal, baby food, fruitjuice and swordfish. Also, the laboratory has participated in surveillance activities, including thepolitical conventions and analyzing arsenic in juice.The project plan for this cooperative agreement continues to work closely with FDA to develop newmethods that are necessary for proactively responding to food safety initiatives while maintainingemergency preparedness by participating in proficiency tests, cross-training staff to provide additionalsurge support, and continued participation technical and national meetings and conference calls.Training sessions provided by FDA and other FERN partners will also be used to stay up-to-date ofthe newest technology used by FERN. The project plan also includes commitments for matrixevaluations, analyte extension, method validations and new method development.

Seely, Kathryn
Arkansas Department of Health
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