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Food Safety – Laboratory Services Division

The laboratory provides testing services for the regulatory divisions of the Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services (BFSLS) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). The laboratory provides analytical testing support to other units within the Department of Agriculture as requested. The laboratory is not a fee for service laboratory and does not accept samples other than those submitted through and collected by our regulatory partners. For human food, animal feed, fertilizer, pesticide drift/misuse, related complaints, and requests for testing, please refer to the applicable regulatory division to address your concerns.

The laboratory services division is comprised of two sections and maintains relationships with other state and federal partners to provide a wide array of capabilities:

    1. The Microbiology Section provides direct analytical support for the programs administered by our regulatory partners by providing routine and emergency outbreak related testing of human food and animal feed for pathogenic organisms such as: Salmonella species, Listeria monocytogenes, enterohemorrhagic and Shiga toxin producing E. coli, Campylobacter species, Staphylococcus aureus and enterotoxins, and Bacillus cereus. The microbiology section is also certified as the approved State Central Dairy Regulatory Laboratory for the FDA Interstate Milk Shippers (IMS) Program. As such, the laboratory supports regulatory programs for Grade A Milk; maintains the capacity to perform official antibiotic drug residue testing, somatic cell counts, microbiological indicator organism enumerations, and pasteurization efficiency testing; and also prepares proficiency testing samples for other approved dairy testing laboratories within Pennsylvania.
    2. The Chemistry Section provides direct analytical support for the programs administered by our regulatory partners by providing routine and complaint driven chemical testing in human food and animal feed for the following: nutrient metal formulation, toxic metal contamination, pesticide residues, drug residues and animal feed drug formulations, toxins such as aflatoxin and DON, and other suspected chemical contamination. The chemistry section also provides routine analysis of agronomic products such as fertilizer, liming material, and formulated pesticide products for adherence to label guarantees. The section supports investigations into pesticide drift or misuse by testing soil, vegetation, and water for pesticide residue and collaborates with the. Chemsweep initiative by testing samples to help identify unknown chemicals suspected of being old or discarded pesticides for proper disposal.

The laboratory services division is a member of the Food Emergency Responses Network (FERN). Membership in FERN provides a network linking many local, state, and federal laboratories together to provide mutual assistance in testing and methodologies. In situations where the lab is called upon to provide testing services outside of our current capabilities, testing assistance through other FERN member laboratories can be requested.

The laboratory services division is an awardee of the FDA Laboratory Flexible Funding Model (LFFM) agreement. This cooperative agreement is intended to enhance the capacity and capabilities of state human and animal feed testing laboratories in support of an integrated food safety system. This project will strengthen Pennsylvania's and FDA's efforts to minimize foodborne exposures and prevent foodborne illness through additional resources to increase sample throughput capacity and expanded testing capability within our state.