( Courtesy FDA )

The Food and Drug Administration wants to establish an accreditation system for labs that test foods.

The program would ensure human and animal foods are tested by labs that follow specific standards, and would be subject to “FDA-recognized accreditation bodies” for consistent and reliable results, according to a news release.

Private labs do most of the environmental and food testing related to recalls and outbreaks, and they “may conform” to standards subject to various levels of oversight, according to the FDA.

The new proposal, however, would limit tests acceptable to the FDA to those done by done by accredited labs in these situations:

  • Tests to address an identified or suspected food safety problem (including those related to sprouts);
  • Tests to provide evidence to support admitting imported food, such as when it has been detained due to an appearance of adulteration;
  • Tests to support removing an item from an import alert after successful consecutive tests;
  • Tests presented to FDA as evidence in a hearing before a mandatory recall, or part of a corrective action plan after a facility has been suspended, or as evidence to appeal a detention order; and
  • Tests in response to a food testing order — a new mandate proposed to address an identified or suspected food safety problem.

The results of the tests would have to be sent directly to the FDA, according to the release.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register Nov. 4, with a 120-day comment period.

Related stories:

FDA guidelines aid in developing recall plans