Food Safety Laboratories

The Food Safety Laboratories, located in Tallahassee, actively work to ensure the consumers of Florida the safest possible food supply. The entire program is broadly charged under Section 500.02, Florida Statutes, with protecting the public health from injury by product use or from injury resulting from misrepresentation.

Laboratory personnel analyze more than 15,000 samples each year. These samples are collected by department and other inspectors throughout the state to address food safety and labeling issues in the marketplace. These samples may be analyzed for pathogenic bacteria, protozoan parasites, toxins, allergens, chemical contamination, pesticide residues, nutrition, food additives, or fraudulent formulations, or any combination of these analyses.

Food Laboratories

The Bureau of Food Laboratories, located in Tallahassee, uses physical, microbiological, chemical, immunological and molecular methods to analyze foods processed or sold in Florida to ensure a safe and wholesome food supply. Laboratory work includes verification of the absence of adulterants, determination of conformance with standards of safety and quality, and assurance of accurate representation in labeling and nutrition claims.

Emphasis is given to food safety concerns such as microbiological contamination, unapproved food components, filth, chemical and heavy metal contaminants, new food and food packaging technology, nutrition and other label claims, natural toxicants, and other health/safety issues. Samples are collected primarily by division inspectors from processing and retail establishments throughout the state. See a more detailed description of the Food Laboratories.

Chemical Residue Laboratories

The Chemical Residue Laboratories includes a main laboratory in Tallahassee and Chemical Residue field inspectors, who are strategically stationed throughout the state to provide the laboratory with samples from farms and produce distribution centers. This program is responsible for chemical analysis of food products to determine the presence of chemical contaminants or residues in or on human food, as well as for the regulatory enforcement of federal pesticide and antibiotic residue tolerances and guidelines adopted by the state.

Emphasis is given to raw agricultural produce with highest potential for pesticide residue accumulation. A more detailed description of the Chemical Residue Laboratories is also available.

Federal Contracts

The Food Safety Laboratories includes key federally funded programs.

The Residue Laboratories participates in the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP), which is designed to develop statistically based pesticide residue data at the consumer consumption level to enable federal agencies to more realistically assess risk through the use of more accurate pesticide residue exposure data. This program is a cooperative agreement with the USDA, and the data is used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to conduct dietary exposure studies.

The Bureau of Food Laboratories has a contract with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the analysis of foods for food safety issues. In addition, the Bureau of Food Laboratories is one of nine state laboratories collaborating with the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in the Microbiological Data Program (MDP) to develop reliable data as a baseline of occurrence of Salmonella, generic E. coli, E. coli 0157:H7, and other pathogens on fresh produce commodities.

The Bureau of Chemical Residue Laboratories and the Bureau of Food Laboratories also actively participate in the Food Emergency Response Network. The laboratories have cooperative agreements with the FDA to develop and maintain capabilities to analyze chemical toxins and with the USDA to validate methods and increase capacity for analysis of pathogens and biological toxins.