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FDA lab steps up fight against food-borne diseases

The Food and Drug Administration is stepping up its efforts to monitor the safety of the United States' food supply  
July 27, 1998
Web posted at: 12:43 p.m. EDT (1643 GMT)

From CNN Food & Health Correspondent Carolyn O'Neil

ATLANTA (CNN) -- A newly-expanded laboratory in Atlanta run by the Food and Drug Administration is part of the growing nationwide effort to identify sources of food-borne illness and prevent them from causing outbreaks.

Whether it involves testing tomatoes for pesticide residue or seafood for bacterial contamination, the FDA is stepping up efforts to monitor the safety of the U.S. food supply in the wake of several severe food-borne outbreaks.

"We're able to test more products," said Gayle Lancette of the FDA's Southeastern Regional Lab. "We are able to test them quicker so that we can be assured that more of the products in the marketplace are free from pathogens."

atlanta lab
The newly-expanded Southeastern Regional FDA lab in Atlanta  

The Atlanta lab has added 44,000 square feet of state-of-the-art testing facilities. It is the first of nine such centers designed by the FDA to consolidate resources.

"You reduce the cost of labs if you buy for here in Atlanta not trying to staff five other labs," said John Turner of the FDA. "There's a great deal of efficiency."

The Southeastern Regional Lab, dedicated this month, is expected to test food samples from nine Southeastern states and specialize in national monitoring of infant formula, domestic grains and imported produce.

"This scientific center will do a lot of that type of work with food products coming from South and Central America," Turner said.

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