Lab Matters Winter 2022 | Page 16


Reimagining and Rebranding for the Future of Food Safety

By Adom Yusuf , specialist , Food Safety ; Robyn Randolph , senior specialist , Food Laboratory Accreditation ; and Kirsten Larson , manager , Food Safety
APHL promotes the role of state and local public health and agricultural laboratories in the detection and characterization of foodborne pathogens in both clinical specimens and food and environmental samples , and works with member laboratories as they perform robust surveillance testing and outbreak detection and prevention activities .
Since the first cooperative agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) in 2012 to assist food testing laboratories in expanding accreditation to the ISO / IEC 17025 standard , APHL and its membership have grown to include more human and animal food testing laboratories . To keep pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of food safety , APHL ’ s Board of Directors ( BOD ) stood up a task force in December 2020 to better engage APHL ’ s current Public Health Associate Institutional ( PHAI ) members ( agricultural and environmental laboratories ) and brainstorm how to attract additional PHAI members .
To better address human and animal food testing issues within the association , the BOD Task Force endorsed the elevation of the Human and Animal Food Subcommittee to an advisory committee in July 2022 . The Human and Animal Food Committee ( HAFC ) will now better represent the broad-ranging issues related to food testing and the diverse services of agricultural laboratories . HAFC will cover a multitude of pertinent topics , including :
• Microbiological , chemical and radiological testing of food .
• Whole genome sequencing of food and environmental samples for GenomeTrakr .
• Hemp and cannabis testing in edible products .
• Allergens in food .
• Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ( PFAS ) in food .
In addition to this exciting change with HAFC , the Food Safety Committee was renamed the Foodborne Diseases Committee ( FDC ) to better reflect its work focusing on clinical testing for infectious foodborne pathogens . Issues FDC will address include but are not limited to :
• Implementation of next generation sequencing methods .
• Public health uses of metagenomics .
• Implications of culture-independent diagnostics .
• Viral and parasitic foodborne pathogens .
• Diagnostics / surveillance for ( re ) emerging foodborne pathogens .
APHL is committed to maintaining connection and coordination between FDC and HAFC . Staff aims to schedule an overlapping day at committee in-person meetings and ensure HAFC and FDC staff liaisons participate in both committees ’ calls so that issues of mutual interest are addressed from multiple perspectives .
APHL has always worked closely with members and federal partners at the US Centers for Disease Control and
“ The [ reimagining of these committees ] demonstrates our membership ’ s dedication to addressing food safety through the lens of One Health . [ And their separation ] will provide more focused membership input to collaboratively strengthen the food systems we have , manage food safety risks and respond to incidents and emergencies .”
– Daphne Ware , PhD , APHL president
Prevention , FDA , and the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service to advance laboratory practices by increasing the competence of laboratory staff , improving the capabilities of member laboratories , and strengthening the defensibility of laboratory data . Through these two advisory committees , the association plans to expand efforts into :
• Antimicrobial resistance , wastewater surveillance for enteric pathogens .
• Iinteroperability of next-generation sequencing data .
• Foodborne illness source attribution , outbreaks of undetermined etiology .
• Chemical risk analyses ( i . e ., PFAS , cannabis , heavy metals , etc .).
The committees will continue to expand collaboration with federal partners and across APHL , and will continue to evolve and positively impact public health by meeting the needs of diverse member perspectives . g
14 LAB MATTERS Winter 2022
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