The Laboratory Services Division provides analytical support and data that is critical to the protection of Minnesota’s food supply, agricultural industry and environment. Legally defensible analyses support the departmental regulatory programs and other state and local programs.
The laboratory protects all Minnesota citizens and those who use Minnesota agriculture or agricultural products by working to ensure a safe, secure food supply and protect the environment from misuse of agricultural chemicals. Through partnerships, we serve the entire nation as we work with other states and federal agencies to identify and address problems of national concern and work to ensure the wholesomeness of Minnesota’s food exports.
The Division performs chemical, microbiological, and physical analyses of food, dairy products, beverages, water, fertilizer, lime, feed, seed, plant material, pesticides, pesticide residues and grain. These tests support inspection and enforcement activities of MDA’s regulatory divisions. We also determine products’ quality and conformance to state and federal laws and regulations, to provide legally defensible data as evidence in legal proceedings against violators.
Our mission includes routine analyses to ensure that products meet legally mandated quality standards, such as analyzing a feed to verify label claims and to see if it is contaminated by heavy metals such as arsenic and selenium. It also provides for forensic analysis to identify unknown agents in a suspect product. Beyond that, our lab’s special analytical testing gives the Department rapid and accurate data needed to manage and work with environmental and food-borne crises, such as E. coli contaminated ground beef and pesticide residues in produce. The Lab develops and maintains new analytical capabilities as problems or questions arise within the Feed, Food and agrochemical Industry. We also consult on analytical issues with Inspectors, managers, private analytical laboratories and regulated industries.
In addition to our services to MDA’s regulatory programs, the Lab provides analyses for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal and state agencies.
The laboratory administers a laboratory certification program for private and commercial testing laboratories as required by the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) for the interstate shipment of milk. The laboratory provides support for the Pesticide and Fertilizer Management Division Incident Response Unit’s Laboratory Approval Program by reviewing methods, analytical data and associated quality data. Also in support of Incident Response, the lab works closely with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Administration on compliance monitoring of the state contract for environmental sampling and laboratory analysis.
The Laboratory has served the State of Minnesota since 1887. The lab’s first duty was to oversee our state’s dairy industry. Over the years our services have grown to include microbiological, chemical and plant analysis of seed, feed, food, and dairy products. 1989 groundwater protection legislation created a special need to expand the lab’s analytical capabilities and technology to include testing for a vast array of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. In 1994 the MDA provided the state opportunity to integrate DNR analytical services into MDA’s lab operations. This allowed the DNR to close two laboratories while still providing their programs the quality data required for decision making. In the fall of 2005 the lab moved into the newly constructed building at 601 Robert Street North.
The MDA Lab is co-located with the Minnesota Health Department’s laboratory. The new facility and co-location will provide Minnesota an increased capacity to better address foodborne outbreaks, emerging food security concerns and threats of terrorism. In 2004 the laboratory entered into a unique partnership with the University of Minnesota supporting their role as a Department of Homeland Security center of excellence for the protection and defense of the nations food supply.