Last week, employees from the Food and Drug Protection Division laboratories received the state’s highest honor, the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding State Government Service for the work that earned the labs dual ISO 17025 certifications. While only 25 people were able to represent the group at the ceremony at the N.C. Museum of History, the award recognized all 60 lab employees, said division director Dan Ragan.
“It’s huge to us. It really just speaks to the dedication of the employees of this division,” he said in the video that was shown during the ceremony.
The Constable and Ballentine laboratories earned the ISO 17025 Standard for chemical and microbiological testing of foods in 2010. This year, feed and fertilizer testing were added to the accreditation scope. Lab personnel pursued accreditation over a four-year period while maintaining routine workloads.
Only five state labs in the country are accredited in both chemical and biological testing. According to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, laboratory accreditation benefits state residents because it puts the state labs on par with federal labs and allows federal partners such as the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture to accept state data. All of this is important to food and feed safety because most tests will not have to be repeated at the federal level before action can be taken.
The Food and Drug Protection Division administers programs to assure North Carolinians that their food and drugs are safe, sanitary and distributed safely. The division also determines that labeling and packaging are accurate and informative.