Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

May 06, 2008

New York State Food Lab To Be Rebuilt In Capital District

42 State Food Lab Employees will Stay in Albany Area

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the Stateís decision to rebuild the New York State Food Laboratory in the Capital District. The food lab provides expert analytical testing in support of food safety and security programs throughout the State.

"One of the most critical services government provides is the monitoring of our food supply to ensure that it is safe," Governor David A. Paterson said.  "Here in New York, we have a diverse population with a wide variety of food items from all over the world.  The New York State Food Laboratory plays a vital role in making sure all of those products are safe for consumption and I am pleased to support the rebuilding of this important laboratory."

The Commissioner said, "Our food lab is one of the best in the nation, and it is recognized as a leader not for the bricks and mortar, but rather for the team of skilled professionals that work there. By rebuilding the laboratory here in the Capital District, we will be able to provide our existing and talented staff with a state-of-the-art facility that will enable us to better fulfill our responsibility of ensuring a safe food supply for all New Yorkers. I appreciate Governor Patersonís strong support for this critical infrastructure."

The New York State Food Laboratory has expertise in food chemistry, food microbiology and pesticide residue. As a division of the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the lab supports the Departmentís regulatory programs in the areas of food safety, milk control and horticulture. Currently, there are 42 State employees housed at the Food Lab, including 30 chemists, bacteriologists and microbiologists.

Ken Brynien, President of the New York State Public Employees Federation, said, "We are pleased that Gov. Paterson and Commissioner Hooker let policy not politics dictate the decision on the location of the new food testing lab. The decision to keep the lab in the Capital District will maintain the close working relationships to other state agencies including the state Department of Health and continue to ensure New Yorkís food supply is the safest in the nation."

CSEA President Danny Donohue said, "CSEA is extremely pleased by this decision to maintain the food lab in the Capital region. It is a smart and cost-effective decision in these challenging times and it is also welcome news for the employees who work at the facility."

The Food Lab is currently located in an outdated building at the Harriman State Office Campus in Albany. The building also houses the New York State Metrology Laboratory, which certifies standards for weight and measures, and certifies new types of weighing and measuring devices. The metrology lab, also a component of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has seven employees, all of whom will be relocated when the new food lab is built in Capital District. The current building is in need of major renovations in order to accommodate the advanced testing performed there.

The 2006-2007 State budget included a $40 million re-appropriation for the construction of the New York State Food Laboratory. The Department of Agriculture and Markets will begin work immediately with the New York State Office of General Services to identify a location within the Capital District suitable for the new lab.

The Food Lab administers numerous different programs, including food analysis; microbiology; food and dairy chemistry; animal feed and pet food analysis; fertilizer and lime analysis; wine and liquor analysis; food safety and security programs; and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), which is part of a national infrastructure that responds to food emergencies.

The Food Lab also has cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a microbiological data program to detect pathogens in fresh food and a pesticide data program to test fruit, vegetables, and public drinking water for pesticide residues.

In 2007, the New York State Food Laboratory tested more than 19,000 food, beverage, animal feed, fertilizer and lime samples as part of the Department of Agriculture and Marketsí regulatory surveillance programs, and made more than 115,000 analyses reports from those samples.

2008 Press Releases