Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Division of Food Laboratory 
 Dr. Maria Ishida, Director, (518) 457-4477


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.

The new LEED Silver Food and Metrology laboratory facility opened in 2013. Photo courtesy of HDR Architecture Inc. 2013, Ari Burling.

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




Click here to download a Summary of Analyses Conducted by the Food Laboratory in 2016.

Food and Dairy Microbiology
Approximately 1,200 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. The dairy microbiology program serves as the state diary testing laboratory for the FDA Interstate Milk Shippers program. DairyMicro

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


Commodities involved

 Salmonella enterica

 Bean sprouts

 Campylobacter jejuni or coli

 Raw milk

 Listeria monocytogenes

 Raw milk, store prepared salads, deli meats, sprouts

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.FoodChem

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


Commodities involved

 Undeclared sulfites

 Dried apricots, raisins, mangos, coconut and lilies

 Undeclared allergens

 Chocolate, pastries and seasonings

 Undeclared colors - non- permitted colors

 Turmeric, paprika and saffron

 Heavy metals

 Lead in turmeric

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 other food products for pesticide residues. Similar contracts exist with six other states – California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. 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 approximately 160 food and dairy samples/month for contamination with over 200 different pesticides.

The Food Laboratory is now a member of a growing network of public health laboratories that are sequencing the whole genomes of foodborne pathogens for public health surveillance and tracking. This initiative is being led by the US FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and partners with CDC and a growing number of state and local public health laboratories. Whole genome sequencing dramatically increases the amount of genetic information that we can use to characterize foodborne pathogens to detect outbreaks and identify the sources of contaminated foods. Because the entire genome or genetic code of each strain is sequenced additional information on each strain with regard to virulence, antibiotic resistance, and other important characteristics may be characterized.

New York State Rapid Response Team (NY-RRT):
New York is currently one of 18 state that are funded under the FDA cooperative agreement program known as the Rapid Response Team (RRT) program. RRTs conduct integrated, multiagency responses to all-hazards food and feed and requires that RRT teams engage partners across disciplines and jurisdictions to build core capabilities and explore innovative approaches to response. The RRTs vary from each other in accordance with differences in government structures, geographies, laws, resources, etc. The NY-RRT involves partners within the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets (Food Safety and Inspection, Food Laboratory, Milk Control, and Animal Industry), the NY State Department of Health, and the FDA NY District Office. The RRTs activate in response to food emergencies in their states, drawing on the resources and partnerships developed through this project to accomplish responses characterized by improvements in areas such as interagency communication, established plans and procedures, and jointly trained and exercised staff.

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:

Kaml C, CC Weis, P Dezendorf, M Ishida, D Rice, Y Salfinger, and R Klein. 2014. Developing a competency framework for U.S. state food and feed testing laboratory personnel. Journal of the AOAC-I. 97:768 – 772.

Sheridan, R, J Mirabile, and K Hafler. 2014. Determination of six illegal antibiotics in chicken jerky treats dog treats. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 62:3690 – 3696.

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. Journal of Food Protection. 74:1268 -1281.

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



 Partnership for Food Protection


 Genome TRAKR Program


 NIH GenomeTRAKR Data

 FDA Rapid Response Teams


 Centers for Disease Control - Foodnet

 Centers for Disease Control - Pulsenet

 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