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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

VDL Joins Fight Against Food Contamination

October 24th, 2011

EggLast year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a massive egg recall when a salmonella outbreak at two major egg producers sickened 1,700 people. Contaminated chicken feed was the culprit.

The FDA relies on a network of government agencies and laboratories to investigate and diagnose food contamination outbreaks and they have their hands full. Salmonella alone accounts for food emergencies that affect an estimated 400,000 people each year. Listeria, e. coli and other food-borne pathogens affect hundreds of thousands more. If a contamination incident is related to animal feed, the testing needed to identify the cause is done by veterinary diagnostic laboratories.

In March of 2011 the FDA created the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network to expedite their ability to respond to food emergencies. The OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) was recently asked to join that network. “We have agreed to provide surge capacity to other member labs in the event of an animal feed contamination event,” says VDL director Jerry Heidel.  This will primarily involve the bacteriology section of the VDL but the FDA’s future objectives for the network include sharing and coordination of facilities and data.

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