USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it has reached sufficient laboratory capacity for certain import-related food testing, specifically for mycotoxins, under the Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods (LAAF) program.

This milestone marks a significant step in the FDA’s ongoing efforts to enhance food safety through rigorous testing standards and oversight.

The FDA established the LAAF program to improve the accuracy and reliability of food testing by standardizing procedures and enhancing oversight of participating laboratories.

The program mandates that owners and consignees of certain foods use LAAF-accredited laboratories for specific types of testing, including those necessary to remove a food item from an import alert or address specific food safety concerns.

However, the FDA stipulated that these requirements would only be enforced once sufficient laboratory capacity for the required testing existed.

As of March 31, 2024, the regulator has determined that there is now adequate capacity for mycotoxin analyses under the LAAF program.

Consequently, starting December 1, 2024, owners and consignees of imported food subject to the LAAF regulation must use LAAF-accredited laboratories for mycotoxin testing. This requirement is part of the FDA’s broader strategy to ensure that food entering the U.S. market meets stringent safety standards.

Expanding laboratory capacity for other analytes

The FDA plans to add additional analyte capacities for import-related food testing to the LAAF Dashboard as they are achieved.

Each new analyte group will have a compliance date set six months from its posting on the dashboard. The LAAF Dashboard provides comprehensive information on recognized accreditation bodies and LAAF-accredited laboratories, including their locations, scopes of accreditation, analytes, and methods used.

Currently, the FDA has not made capacity determinations for other food testing circumstances covered by the LAAF regulation.

The agency will continue to monitor and evaluate laboratory capacities and will publish additional notices in the Federal Register once sufficient capacity is reached for other types of food testing, as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 1.1107 [a]1-3).

By enforcing the use of LAAF-accredited laboratories, the FDA aims to protect consumers and maintain high standards for food quality in the United States.

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