FERN

FERN – The Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) is managed by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA.  Laboratories participating in FERN at the Federal, State, and local level are responsible for detecting and identifying biological, chemical, and radiological agents in food. FERN presently has 172 laboratories within its membership.  This includes 39 Federal (including DoD) laboratories, 116 State/territory/university laboratories, and 17 local laboratories. The primary objectives of FERN are to help prevent attacks on the food supply through utilization of targeted food surveillance; prepare for emergencies by strengthening laboratory capabilities to respond to threats, attacks, and emergencies in the food supply; and to assist in recovery from such an incident.  Targeted surveillance is the random selection of food commodities within various agency programs that are tested for threat agents.  Program commodities could include, but are not limited to, imports, school lunch programs, and special events such as political conventions, major sporting events, or other events where large or high profile groups of people are gathered.  Some FERN laboratories are also responsible for method development and validation. For more information on the FERN, please visit: http://www.fernlab.org/