New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s State Chemist Laboratory receives international accreditation

For the first time in its existence, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s State Chemist Laboratory is an International Organization for Standardization accredited laboratory.

The accreditation means that the lab has met specific criteria to qualify as an accredited testing lab, within a scope that includes chemical and biological methods for testing animal feed. The accreditation demonstrates the lab’s capacity to deliver reliable results.

Located in Las Cruces, the NMDA State Chemist Lab is primarily a compliance and regulatory lab. Its primary mission is to provide analytical support services to ensure that New Mexico’s citizens receive quality products, including animal feed, commercial fertilizers and commercial pesticides. These services ensure a level playing field for manufacturers and promote responsible environmental stewardship. The lab analyzes samples collected by NMDA inspectors from across the state.

Although the State Chemist Lab’s ISO 17025: 2017 accreditation specifically relates to animal feed, the lab follows the same quality management system when testing all products.

Tim Darden, NMDA’s Laboratory Division Director, said the accreditation process took four and a half years, and it means the lab provides quality defensible data to regulatory partners, programs and the public.

“This accreditation is important, because it allows cooperation with our federal partners,” said Darden. “Now that we have this accreditation, our federal partners do not have to re-test any products our regulatory program finds with violations or adulterants.”

The accreditation process was part of a grant funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said the accreditation confirms the lab’s high standards of operation.

“The NMDA State Chemist Lab is an important component of our overall program to ensure regulatory integrity across New Mexico,” said Witte. “ISO accreditation validates that our staff is operating the lab at the highest standards. I am proud of our team. This lab recently celebrated its centennial—100 years of operation, and its future is bright.”

The accreditation is valid for two years. During that time, the same accrediting body will perform a re-audit to ensure the lab continues to meet the standards. Then it will alternate between an on-site audit one year and an online audit the next year.