Since 2010, the WVDA has been awarded every year a highly competitive Microbiological and Chemistry Cooperative Agreement through the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). FERN is a collaboration of federal, state, and local laboratories and universities which integrate the nation's food-testing laboratories into a network that can respond to emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food. The grant supports funding for salaries of employees, supplies, equipment, training, travel, and maintenance costs related to research, validation, proficiency, and surveillance testing. The WVDA Microbiology and Pesticide / Residue Laboratories analyze samples and controls for FERN. This included samples for detection of traditional foodborne analytes, as well as bioterrorism agents. The WVDA Microbiology Laboratory analyze FERN samples for ricin, abrin, B. anthracis, C. botulinum, F. tularensis, Y. pestis, Salmonella spp, and Staphylococcal enterotoxins. The WVDA Pesticide / Residue Laboratory analyze FERN samples for the detection of twenty-one (21) various pesticides, metals, controlled substances, and general poisons.
What we do…
We keep America safe through research, development, and validation of new detection methods for foodborne contaminants, chemical adulterants, and bioterrorism agents
The WVDA receives federal funding for a variety of research & development projects
The WVDA READ Microbiology and Chemistry Laboratories are 1 of 10 Level 1 (highest level) FERN labs in the nation
Designated the Go-To Laboratory in the US for Ricin detection in foods
13 Peer reviewed scientific publications and 8 official USDA, FDA, & FERN methods
Developed the FIRST method in the country for Abrin detection in Foods
Led a validation study for this method with State Health, Agricultural, and University Laboratories throughout the US
The WVDA began the first national proficiency program for the detection of abrin toxin in foods where twelve (12) laboratories participated throughout the country. The WVDA had previously developed, validated, and authored the official FERN abrin detection method. Chemistry and Microbiological Laboratories throughout the country participated in the proficiency test.
Designed and led the first national Abrin proficiency testing program in foods for the Food Emergency Response Network
The WVDA was the only state laboratory in the country to work with FDA Laboratories to validate a method for the detection of Norovirus and Hepatitis A in Shellfish
Data from FERN research has been presented at meetings such as the International Associated of Food Protection and the American Society for Microbiology.
WVDA Scientists conduct laboratory training courses with scientists for the USDA, FDA, & FERN in State Labs and Universities throughout the US