About the Center

The Center for Specialty Programs provides laboratories and businesses with innovative proficiency testing (PT) and method validation programs.  The Center has expertise in the preparation and distribution of naturally incurred and artificially contaminated samples in a variety of food matrices for chemical as well as microbiological analysis. Considering IFSH’s linkages with the FDA, the Center is uniquely positioned to prepare against public health threats, and also to satisfy specific provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  The Center also manages the development and oversight of government contracts with the US FDA, USDA, Department of Homeland Security, and other regulatory agencies associated with food protection and nutrition.

What You Get

  • Proven record as a provider of proficiency testing schemes to FDA, USDA, CDC, CVM, DHS, State Health and Agriculture, and food industry laboratories.
  • Unique capabilities to work with a wide range of food matrices and analytes in preparing homogeneous, stable, life-like test samples.
  • Scientific expertise to design, conduct, analyze, and report Inter/Multi-Laboratories studies.

Our Distinctions

  • Decades of experience managing Proficiency Testing Programs.
  • Provider for the FERN, LRN and Vet-LRN food microbiology and chemistry proficiency testing samples.
  • Provider of proficiency testing samples for FDA regulatory programs, USDA cooperative agreement laboratories, CDC and DHS programs.
  • Lyophilized Food PT/Test Sample capability.
  • Expanded list of matrices/analytes for Inter/Multi-Laboratory studies.

How We Deliver

  • Industry driven consortiums that address market needs.
  • Internationally recognized scientists in proficiency methods. 
  • Collaborative linkages with the FDA.

Key Staff Members and Contact Information

Jason Wan, Ph.D.
Associate Director, IFSH, FSPCA Director, Illinois Tech

Behzad Imanian
Research Assistant Professor, Leader of IFSH High Throughput Sequencing, Illinois Tech

Proficiency Testing and Methods

The proficiency testing program at the Institute for Food Safety and Health produces proficiency testing (PT) samples for both FDA and USDA food safety programs. The center also manages the food chemistry and microbiology proficiency testing programs for the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN). Laboratory performance is tested by challenging analysts with simulated samples to test within their normal operating conditions in order to produce an interlaboratory comparison.

The Food Emergency Response Network was formed to successfully unite federal, state and local laboratories in the detection, response and recovery from national food emergencies, including bioterrorism. This work benefits our nation by testing the analytical and response capabilities of the FERN laboratories so that they are prepared to respond effectively in the case of an actual food emergency.

IFSH’s Assets and Capabilities

  • Inoculate virtually any food product including powders, water and fresh produce samples.
  • Target any level of inoculation, including extremely low levels, in order to test the limits of detection for specific methods.
  • Tailor PT samples to meet the different parameters of testing procedures, including cultural, immunoassay and molecular methods.

IFSH expects to make proficiency testing services available to food industry members in the future. As the PT program expands, the laboratory will enter the process of ISO 17043 certification and expects to offer additional analytical capabilities, such as freeze-dried proficiency testing samples.
Proficiency Testing and Methods Validation Papers and Reports

IFSH handles a variety of specialized government research contracts and special projects for a number of US food protection and nutrition regulatory bodies, including FDA CFSAN, USDA and the Department of Homeland Security.