The MDA lab provides data and analytical support critical to protecting Minnesota’s food supply, the agricultural industry and the environment.
We work to ensure a safe food supply, wholesome food and agricultural exports, and an environment protected from misuse of agricultural chemicals. The lab provides assistance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state agencies.
We conduct chemical, microbiological, and physical analyses of food, dairy products, beverages, water, fertilizer, lime, feed, seed, plant material, pesticides, pesticide residues, and grain as part of the MDA’s inspection and enforcement activities. We also determine products’ quality and whether they conform to state and federal laws and regulations. This analysis must be legally defensible if used as evidence in a court of law.
Additionally, we conduct special analytical testing to provide other MDA regulatory divisions with rapid and accurate data so the agency can respond to emergencies, and manage and assist with environmental and food-borne illness investigations, 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 industries. We also review analytical issues with inspectors, managers, private analytical laboratories, and regulated industries.
- MDA Laboratory Seed Testing Services
The Seed and Plant Pathology Section provides various types of tests to determine seed quality (purity, noxious, germination, tetrazolium, etc.). The fee will vary according to the kind of seed, whether it is a mixture and the kinds of tests requested. Check the Seed Fee Schedule and Submission Form for more information.
Lab Certification Program
The lab administers a certification program for private and commercial testing laboratories as required by the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) for the interstate shipment of milk. We also serve the Pesticide and Fertilizer Management Division Incident Response Unit’s Laboratory Approval Program by reviewing methods, analytical data and associated quality data. For example, supporting the Incident Response Unit, the MDA 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 MDA laboratory has served Minnesota since 1887, with its first duty overseeing the state’s dairy industry. Since then, our services have grown to include microbiological, chemical and plant analysis of seed, feed, food, and dairy products. In 1989, the legislature passed groundwater protection legislation that required the laboratory to expand its analytical capabilities and technology to cover testing for a vast array of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.
The MDA and the Minnesota Department of Health share the laboratory facility. This enables the two agencies to better respond to foodborne illness outbreak investigations, emerging food security concerns, and threats of terrorism.