DCLS provides a wide variety of laboratory testing for local, state and federal agencies in support of food safety and security and the testing of food and other commodities for regulatory purposes. DCLS maintains a catalog of services which includes over 80 methods for nearly 100 different analytes often requested by the public health food and agricultural sector in order to ensure the safety of Virginia's food, feed, fertilizer, limestone, bottled water, and drinking water as mandated and regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The ability of VDACS to take regulatory action when food safety violations occur requires that DCLS maintain an expanded list of methods on our scope of accreditation which include both high volume tests and infrequently used tests.
Commodity testing at DCLS is performed to assure quality of foods and other products (animal feeds, fertilizers, etc) to ensure they are free from microbiological and chemical contamination (natural and intentional), filth, metals, and other adulterants. Food, feed and fertilizer products are analyzed for truth in labeling which is important for the health and safety of our citizens, our livestock and our environment but also important economically to the Commonwealth. Motor fuel testing is performed in support of consumer protection for truth in labeling and contamination of fuels is monitored throughout the Commonwealth.
In addition to regulatory testing, DCLS provides surge outbreak testing support in response to suspected adulteration of food, feed, fertilizer, and bottled/drinking water matrices, whether natural or intentional. DCLS provides testing support for "unknown" agent identification, testing in response to local/state/national recalls and testing under legal chain of custody and is uniquely positioned as Virginia's State laboratory to coordinate with other public health, environmental, agricultural and emergency response agencies to quickly implement testing strategies to address the outbreak needs of the Commonwealth. Recent examples include:
- Detection of L. monocytogenes from novel food matrices (ie. bagged lettuce, sprouts, pan fried anchovies, and hummus) leading to several local, state, and nationwide recalls (2011-2015).
- Use of advanced genomic testing to link L. monocytogenes isolates from soft-cheese to a multi-state outbreak involving severe illnesses and deaths (2014)
- Rapid development and implementation of a method in collaboration with FDA to detect melamine in hog feed (2007)
Food and Commodity Testing Areas: