Since the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, food testing has been garnering attention as recalls and foodborne illness continue to make headlines. The main goal of the FSMA is to provide a means for proactively preventing outbreaks instead of reacting only after an outbreak has occurred. The FSMA requires the implementation of comprehensive, science-based preventive controls across the food supply, creating an opportunity for laboratories engaged in food testing and sampling. As a result, there is greater demand for food testing performed by an accredited laboratory and for accreditation bodies to provide comprehensive assessments (and ultimately accreditation) in order to increase consumers’ confidence in food products.

Although it still comes as a bit of a surprise to some AIHA members, AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs (AIHA-LAP) LLC accredits food testing laboratories through its Food Laboratory Accreditation Program (FoodLAP). Initiated in 2001, this accreditation program is intended for all laboratory, company, government, trade, and independent organizations that perform tests on food products and associated ingredients, including but not limited to raw agricultural commodities, finished food products, ingredients, in-process samples, and associated environmental samples.
FoodLAP is intended for all laboratory, company, government, trade, and independent organizations that perform tests on food products and associated ingredients.
CREDIBILITY AND UNIFORMITY Any person seeking food testing, particularly for international purposes, should seek a testing laboratory that is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories. Not only does it enhance credibility but it also guarantees uniformity of standards and a higher level of safety around the world, all of which are factors that can increase competitiveness in the marketplace.
In addition to accrediting laboratories to the general requirements found in ISO/IEC 17025:2005, AIHA-LAP gives laboratories the option to be accredited to the AOAC International Guidelines for Laboratories Performing Microbiological and Chemical Analyses of Food, Dietary Supplements, and Pharmaceuticals - An Aid to the Interpretation of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 as well as Guidelines for Food Testing Laboratories from the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC) as additional, specific criteria for laboratories seeking accreditation. These documents include the types of models that can be utilized in conjunction with the application of the FSMA.
The AOAC guidelines are offered by AIHA-LAP as accreditation requirements, as they provide detailed criteria to aid in assessing the essential requirements for performing these types of analyses. The document also provides a section-by-section interpretation of the general ISO/IEC 17025 requirements as they apply to a life science laboratory and contains additional accreditation criteria found in three appendices. The first appendix covers laboratory equipment and offers additional minimum requirements on calibration, verification, and maintenance frequencies; the second contains specific criteria for microbiology; and the third offers additional criteria on pharmaceutical analysis.
AIHA-LAP is currently accepting applications for its Food Laboratory Accreditation Program in order to meet the expectations of the FSMA and the FDA. Laboratories that want to get started but are unsure of how their processes stack up should know that AIHA-LAP also provides a pre-assessment option, which allows laboratories to better prepare for a full accreditation assessment at a later date. Many labs use the pre-assessment as a gap analysis of their program to ISO/IEC 17025 and AIHA-LAP requirements. FOR MORE INFORMATION Anyone looking for AIHA-LAP laboratories accredited for food testing should go to the AIHA-LAP website, where at least four laboratories have already attained FoodLAP accreditation.
Whether you work at a food testing laboratory or are a customer in need of food testing, you can contact AIHA-LAP staff (obulgakova@aiha.org, psheehan@aiha.org, or lschnack@aiha.org) if you have questions or would like additional information about the FoodLAP.
GENEVA BOWMAN is manager, quality systems for AIHA-LAP. 
She can be reached at (703) 846-0791 or gbowman@aiha.org.