The Hygienic Laboratory is part of the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) network of laboratories known as FERN (Food Emergency Response Network). FERN provides national surveillance to help detect threats to the American food supply. The Hygienic Lab is a FERN-member laboratory for all three disciplines (chemistry, microbiology and radiochemistry) and receives funding from FERN's Cooperative Agreement Program for chemical and microbiological response.
As a member of FERN, the Hygienic Laboratory Chemistry team participates in surveillance and proficiency testing exercises that help train and prepare staff for responding to an actual food emergency in Iowa.
- Implemented and validated FDA tests for determining arsenic and arsenic speciation in fruit juice and rice.
- Participated in surveillance exercises associated with the 2012 national political conventions in which various food and beverage products were tested for potential inorganic and organic chemical contaminants.
- Participated in three proficiency testing exercises for determination of toxins, inorganic chemicals and organic chemicals in various food products.