Department of Agriculture & Markets

 Division of Food Laboratory 
 Daniel Rice, Director, (518) 457-4477

 Analyst performing foodborne pathogen analysis

Tests food, dairy products, and beverages for specific health hazards, purity, and accurate labeling. In addition animal feed, pet food, fertilizer and lime samples are tested for accurate labeling.

Food Safety Alerts -

To provide expert state of the art analytical testing in support of food safety and security programs and consumer and agricultural interests in New York State.

Current expertise in food chemistry, food microbiology, pesticide residues, animal feed and fertilizer testing. The laboratory supports the regulatory programs of the Divisions of Food Safety and Inspection, Milk Control and Dairy Services, and Plant Industry by providing analytical testing of samples that are collected as part of scheduled regulatory or surveillance programs and in response to disease outbreak investigations, consumer complaints, and a variety of other food related investigations. Specialized analytical services are provided on a contract basis to universities and state and federal agencies within and outside of New York State. The laboratory is accredited to the ISO 17025 and AOAC ALAAC standards.


New Lab 2012

Major Responsibilities
Test all food and beverage samples collected by Department staff for specific health hazards, purity and/or accuracy of labeling. Collaborate with allied governmental agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Liquor Authority. The Food Laboratory has a cooperative agreement with USDA AMS to test produce and dairy products for pesticide residue in support of the Pesticide Data program. The laboratory is also the recipient of FDA grants to monitor hazards in animal feed and pet food, to develop a Rapid Response Team to respond to food borne illness and to expand the scope of accreditation to the ISO17025 international quality standard.





# samples analyzed




Total recalls




# of class 1 recalls initiated




Food Microbiology
Approximately 1,100 food and dairy samples are tested/month. Target organisms include, total aerobic plate counts, total coliforms, E. coli, E. coli O157:H7 and other enterohemorrhagic E. coli, Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter coli and jejuni, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, enterotoxins, and mycotoxins. Adequate laboratory space and technical expertise exist to analyze a large number of food samples for a variety of hazards under Biosafety level 2 conditions.

Recent recalls associated with significant risks to public health (Class 1 recalls) initiated from microbiological.


Commodities involved


E. coli O157:H7

Deli meat, ground beef


Salmonella enterica

Ground pepper and ground beef


Campylobacter jejuni

Raw milk


Listeria monocytogenes

Raw milk, store prepared salads, deli meats, sprouts





Analyst performing infrared analysis

Food and Dairy Chemistry
Approximately 400 food and dairy samples are tested/month. Targets include specific allergens, undeclared preservatives, food colors, antibiotic residues, chemical contamination including pesticides and heavy metals, shelf stability, standard of identity and confirming nutritive content. Adequate space and expertise exist to perform a variety of analyses on a large number of samples. Current emphasis exists on allergen testing of food and antibiotic residues in food, particularly in support of the Departments Imported Food Initiative that specifically targets imported foods for selected hazards.

Recent recalls associated with significant risks to public health (Class 1 and 2 recalls) initiated from chemical analyses.



Undeclared sulfites


Undeclared dairy, wheat, egg or nut allergens


Undeclared colors - non-permitted colors


Non-eviscerated fish


Heavy metals - Lead


Other hazards




Animal Feed and Pet food analysis
Approximately 500 agricultural animal feed and pet food samples/year from New York state are tested to confirm label claims of nutritive content and declared and undeclared antimicrobials. The laboratory currently has grant funding in place from FDA to test for various hazards in animal feed and pet food. The analytes include toxic metals, mycotoxins, Salmonella, and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Fertilizer and lime analysis
Approximately 160 fertilizer and lime samples/year are tested to confirm label claims of chemical content.

USDA Pesticide Data Program
A cooperative agreement initiated in 1991 between the Department and the USDA:AMS to test fruit, vegetables and public drinking water for pesticide residues. Similar contracts exist with nine other states – California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Data are used by federal agencies for policymaking, regulatory and educational purposes. The program is dynamic and the targets for analyses frequently change as new pesticides are introduced to the market. The program has allowed the laboratory to become an international leader in the development and application of new technologies. The program has allowed the laboratory to expand its expertise in identifying and confirming low levels of pesticide residues, benefiting other programs in the Department and the laboratory through training opportunities and instrumentation.

The Pesticide Residue section tests an average of 150 food and dairy samples/month for contamination with over 200 different pesticides. 1738 samples were tested in 2012. Analyst receiving fresh produce samples for pesticide analysis

Research aimed at improving methods of chemical and microbiological analyses are an ongoing effort in the Food Laboratory. Collaborative relationships with food safety staff in academia, industry and state and federal agencies exist providing a mechanism for the Food Laboratory to be involved in food safety and security research projects related to the ecology and epidemiology of food borne pathogens and specialized detection methods of biological and chemical hazards. The lab is currently improving methods for arsenic speciation in juice and rice, unallowed antibiotics in fish, and industrial dyes in several food matrixes. A recent project led to the identification of disallowed antibiotic residues in chicken jerky treats for dogs that resulted in a national product recall.

Recent Publications:

Book chapters

DH Rice. 2009. Produce Contamination by Other Wildlife. pp. 143 – 156 in GM Sapers, EB Solomon and KR Matthews eds. The Produce Contamination Problem – Causes and Solutions. Academic Press. Burlington MA.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

Latorre AA, AK Pradhan, JS Van Kessel, JS Karns, KJ Boor, DH Rice, KJ Mangione, YT Gröhn, and YH Schukken. 2011. Quantitative risk assessment of listeriosis due to consumption of raw milk. In Press. Journal of Food Protection.

Hoelzer K, BD Sauders, MD Sanchez, PT Olsen, MM Pickett,  KJ Mangione, DH Rice, J Corby, S Stich, ED Fortes, SE Roof, YT Grohn, M Wiedmann and HF Oliver. 2011. Prevalence, distribution, and diversity of Listeria monocytogenes in retail environments, focusing on small establishments and establishments with a history of failed inspections. Journal of Food Protection. 74:1083 – 1095.

King TJ, RS Sheridan, DH Rice. 2010. Analysis of Toxic Metals in Seafood Sold in New York State by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry and Direct Combustion Analysis. Journal of Food Protection. 73:1715 – 1720.

Sheridan, RS, JL Kemnah.  2010. Glycoalkaloid Content in Pet Food by UPLC/Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Journal of Chromatographic Science. 48:790 – 794.

Sauders BD, MD Sanchez, DH Rice, J Corby, S Stich, ED Fortes, SE Roof, and M Wiedmann. 2009. Prevalence and molecular diversity of Listeria monocytogenes in retail establishments.  Journal of Food Protection. 72:2337 – 2349.

M’ikanatha NM, DH Rice, SF Altekruse. 2008. Strategic use of state and local regulatory and public health surveillance resources to address the growing demand for food safety oversight in the United States. Journal of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 5:1 – 7.

Cobbold RN, MA Davis, DH Rice, M Szymanski, PI Tarr, TE Besser, DD Hancock. 2008. Association between bovine, human, and raw milk, and beef isolates of non-O157 Shiga toxingenic Escherichia coli within a restricted geographic area of the United States. Journal of Food Protection. 71:1023 – 1027.

Sheridan R, B Policastro, S Thomas, D Rice. 2008. Analysis and occurrence of 14 Sulfonamide antibacterials and Chloramphenicol in honey by solid phase extraction followed by LC/MS/MS analysis. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 56:3509 – 3516.

Sheridan, R., King, T. 2008. Determination of cyclamate in foods by UPLC/Tandem Mass Spectrometry, JAOAC. 91:1095-1102.

Kim B., Perkins, L. B., Bushway R. J., Nesbit S., Fan, T., Sheridan, R, Greene, V. 2008. Determination of Melamine in pet food by enzyme immunoassay, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with Diode Array Detection, and Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry. JAOAC. 91:408-413.

Palmer, P.M., Wilson, L.R., O’Keefe, P., Sheridan R., King T., Chen C. 2008.  Sources of pharmaceutical pollution in the New York City watershed.  Science of the Total Environment. 394: 90-102.

Food Safety and Security Programs
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has an active program in food security. Three positions in the Food Laboratory, one food microbiologist and two food chemists, are dedicated to enhancing the laboratory’s ability to respond to food emergencies. Specific efforts include expansion of capacity, enhancements in rapid detection methods for biological and chemical hazards, and development of a communication system between allied laboratories in New York State’s Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Food Emergency Response Network (FERN)
The Food Laboratory is a member of the FERN, a federally supported national network of state and federal laboratories with expertise in testing food for chemical, biological, and radiological hazards. The FERN provides local, regional, and national surveillance of hazards in food through information from national databases such as eLEXNET. The FERN provides a national infrastructure and organization to respond to food emergencies and provides extensive training opportunities to laboratory staff for rapid detection methods of specific pathogens and chemical hazards.  The FERN complements and enhances current state programs in food safety and security.

pulsenet logo, pfge fingerprint, woman using computer, woman using lab equipmentThe Food Laboratory is one of two agriculture sector public health laboratories that participates in PulseNet. PulseNet is a national network of federal, state and local public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PulseNet laboratories perform standardized molecular subtyping (or “fingerprinting”) of foodborne disease-causing bacteria by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE can be used to distinguish between strains of organisms and PulseNet uses PFGE to characterize Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica, Shigella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter spp. at the DNA level. DNA “fingerprints,” or patterns, are submitted electronically to a dynamic database at the CDC. These databases are available on demand to participants allowing for rapid comparison of PFGE patterns and providing a valuable tool for detecting and investigating outbreaks of foodborne illness. Representatives of all foodborne pathogens isolated from food in the NY State Food Laboratory are submitted to the PulseNet database. For more information visit

Internet links to food safety related sites:



New York State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control - Foodnet

Centers for Disease Control - Pulsenet

Food Safety Network - FSnet

Food Protection and Defense Food Shield

International Association of Food Protection

USDA:AMS Pesticide Data Program

Internet links to public health and food safety related press releases

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets

New York State Department of Health

New York City Department of Health

Food Safety and Inspection Services - USDA

Food and Drug Administration

Food and Drug Administration - Safety Alerts