The program provides accreditation bodies with assistance in approving laboratories for food testing

The United States Food and Drug Administration has opened an application portal for accreditation bodies wishing to participate in the Laboratory for Food Analysis Accreditation (LAAF) program.

Under the LAAF program, the FDA will recognize accreditation bodies that will accredit food testing laboratories to the standards established in the final regulation on the accreditation of laboratories for the analysis of foodstuffs, called LAAF accredited laboratories.

The final rule, issued by the FDA in December 2021, established the LAAF program and outlines the eligibility requirements that accrediting bodies and laboratories wishing to participate in the program will need to meet. The final rule also outlines procedures for FDA management and oversight of the program. The FDA will maintain a public online registry of Recognized Accredited Organizations and LAAF Accredited Laboratories.

Eligibility requirements for an accreditation body seeking recognition by the FDA include being a full member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperative (ILAC) and a signatory of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) of the FDA. ‘ILAC with demonstrated competence to ISO/IEC 17011:2017(E) with a scope of “Tests: ISO/IEC 17025:2017”.

Interested accreditation bodies can apply through the portal.

The establishment of the LAAF program will improve the FDA’s ability to protect US consumers from unsafe foods by improving the accuracy and reliability of certain food tests through uniform standards and increased oversight of participating laboratories.

When the LAAF Final Rule is fully implemented, owners and recipients will be required to use an LAAF-accredited laboratory for food testing in the following cases:

  • to support the removal of a food from an import alert through successful consecutive testing requirements;
  • to support the admission of an imported food held up at the border because it is or appears to be in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;
  • required by existing FDA food safety regulations, when applied to address an identified or suspected food safety issue (i.e. certain shell egg, sprout, and drinking water testing in a bottle) ;
  • required by a Directed Food Laboratory Order, a new procedure implemented in this final rule that will allow the FDA to require the use of an LAAF-accredited laboratory to resolve an identified or suspected food safety issue in certain rare circumstances; and
  • conducted as part of certain administrative proceedings such as tests submitted as part of an appeal of an administrative detention order.

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