CDA lab expanding food safety tests

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jul 18, 2008
by WLJ

CDA lab expanding food safety tests

The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s (CDA) Inspection and Consumer Services Division has been notified that they will be receiving a federal grant to detect contamination in the U.S. food supply. This grant is one of only four new microbiology laboratory Cooperative Agreements awarded nationwide.

The grant is administered by the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service. FERN is an integrated network of laboratories across America that works to quickly respond to food-related emergencies.

"We are very excited to expand our role in food safety," said Keith Wegner, grant administrator and Laboratory Services section chief. "We had originally asked for $174,000 and we received $245,000; I believe that shows the increasing importance on food safety."

The funding, which will begin in October 2008, will expand current CDA testing on fresh produce and include validation studies, method development, and related research for food-borne pathogens, contaminants and adulterants.

"The department is committed to ensuring a safe, high quality, and sustainable food supply," continued Wegner. "It is vital that our laboratory continues to strive for the latest scientific methods and technology and this grant will help us further develop our food safety capacity."

According to FERN, the goal of the cooperative agreement is "to enhance and expand the capabilities and capacities of the FERN laboratories to be able to analyze various food matrices for microbiological threat agents utilizing FERN methods in order to be able to quickly and accurately respond to any potential threats to the nation’s food supply."

CDA’s biochemistry laboratory provides analyses on a variety of matrices including animal feeds, fertilizers, soil, vegetation, and water. The laboratory also includes a microbiology section which employs microbiological techniques to analyze human and animal foods for harmful bacteria and examines animal feeds for the presence of antibiotics and prohibited materials. — WLJ