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New Jersey Food Testing Program - Food Safety and Defense


New Jersey Food Testing Program - Food Safety and Defense (2020-2025): Overall
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Public Health and Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) is
pursuing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cooperative agreement program focused on improving
the capability and capacity of NJ to maintain food safety in support of FDA priorities. This initiative is achieved
by testing foods for microbiological, chemical, and radiological contaminants while further integrating the three
analytical disciplines into a unified food testing program to effectively respond to any foodborne outbreaks and
contaminations. To address these tasks, NJDOH is proposing a New Jersey Food Testing Program (NJFTP)
and committing to achieving the overall project goals of enhancing food defense in NJ and improving food testing
capabilities and capacity for NJFTP.
Specifically, NJFTP will participate in: 1) triage exercises and surveillance activities, 2) national security events,
3) testing associated with credible or suspected threats to food supply 4) other food defense/food safety
assignments and proficiency tests 5) training seminars, conferences, and teleconferences, and 6) group testing,
functional exercises, and results reporting. Additionally, NJFTP proposes the following five initiatives to further
support and assist in its mission: 1) analyzing pre-packaged bags of lettuce for the presence of Escherichia coli
O157/Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Salmonella species with characterization of the
microorganisms by biochemical analysis and whole genome sequencing (WGS); 2) conducting WGS on
historical Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus isolates recovered from local clam and oyster harvests
3) testing various commercially available food items collected from retail stores in NJ to survey microbiological
(Francisella tularensis, Burkholderia sp., Brucella sp., Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis), chemical (toxic
elements, toxins/poisons, and pesticides), and radiochemical (low-level iodine-131, gamma emitters, Cs-137, I-
131, and alpha/beta emitters such as Am/Pu and Sr-90) contaminants, 4) developing methods to expand the
capabilities to quantify pesticides in fruit- and vegetable-based beverages and low-level I-131 in milk, and 5)
expand sample throughput capacity throughout PHEL.
The test results will be relayed to the FDA and other regulatory agencies to initiate investigations and remove
potentially harmful products from the market. By conducting the work detailed in this proposal and managing an
integrated food safety system, NJDOH will be able to expand its food defense activities while further safeguarding
public health and supporting FDA priorities by providing our federal and State partners with critical microbial,
chemical, and radiological contaminant data they can use to enhance their own food defense practices.

Fan, Zhi-hua, Kirn, Thomas Joseph
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
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