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Food, Dairy, & Residue Lab

The Food, Dairy, & Residue Laboratory section analyzes samples of food and dairy products to determine product quality and ensure public safety. Test results support the regulatory duties of NDA Food Safety and Consumer Protection and are entered into a national food safety data repository.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the NDA Laboratory has been a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), created in 2006 by President George Bush. FERN is a national network of federal, state, and local food testing laboratories that maintain testing capacity and capability for Homeland Security readiness.

All FERN analysts stay prepared to test food products for intentional or accidental adulteration by biological or chemical bioterrorism agents. Early detection of a human health hazard in our food supply can save countless lives.

The Residue testing area is able to test for a vast array of chemical contaminants in the nation’s food supply including poisons, toxins, and heavy metals (i.e., lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and others). Most of this work is performed under the FDA FERN chemical Cooperative Agreement Program. The Residue team also analyzes Nebraska milk samples each year for the presence of pesticide residues in support of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. From time to time, samples involved in criminal cases from law enforcement agencies are sent to the FDR Laboratory because we maintain extensive food analysis capabilities.

The Dairy testing area examines Grade A, raw, and manufacturing milk samples for bacterial loads, somatic cells, and drug residues. Grade A pasteurized samples are tested for bacterial numbers, drug residues, alkaline phosphatase, and coliforms. FDA certifies NDA lab personnel to test dairy products. One of our dairy analysts is the only FDA-certified Laboratory Evaluation Officer (LEO) in the state and has the duty of certifying dairy industry laboratories throughout Nebraska.

The Food testing area receives food samples from NDA Food Sanitarians to perform routine testing for major foodborne pathogens in support of the FDA Manufactured Foods Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS), one arm of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The NDA Laboratory is tasked with analyzing foods associated with foodborne illness when they occur in the state of Nebraska. This work is performed in collaboration with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments. When NDA identifies a human health hazard in foods, FDA or USDA can use NDA test results to remove harmful food products from the marketplace. Accreditation to ISO 17025 has streamlined this ability to share data across agencies.

One analyst in the FDR Laboratory also performs duties of the NDA Soil Survey Officer. Registered soil and plant testing laboratories are inspected one every two years according to the Nebraska Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory Act.