USDA consolidates lab testing regulations

Plan updates regulations outlining how agency approves laboratories to conduct official animal disease testing.

January 24, 2020

1 Min Read
USDA consolidates lab testing regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making it easier for animal diagnostic laboratories to carry out vital livestock disease testing on behalf of the agency.

In a stakeholder announcement, APHIS explained that USDA is updating regulations that outline how the agency approves laboratories outside the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) to conduct official testing for animal diseases as well as how they can remain approved. USDA will now use a single, user-friendly process for laboratory approval and consolidate the existing regulations into one location, APHIS said.

Approved laboratories play a vital role in animal health efforts by providing proven, accurate results in a specific time frame, APHIS said, noting that the agency relies on these laboratories every day to provide clear information about the health status of the nation’s many herds and flocks. These changes will make it easier for laboratories to understand what they need to do to become approved and remain approved to conduct a wide variety of official tests for USDA.

USDA made one clarifying change from the original proposal, based on public comments, APHIS said. The final rule defines NAHLN as being primarily composed of federal, state and university-associated animal health laboratories. This change is because, on a case-by-case basis, NAHLN may use private laboratories if their capabilities are needed, APHIS said.

Existing approved laboratories would begin using the new process when it is time for their next renewal. USDA would implement the new process for newly requested approvals immediately when the rule takes effect on Feb. 24, 2020.

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