ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker has unveiled the state’s decision to rebuild the New York State Food Laboratory in the Capital District.
The food lab provides expert analytical testing in support of food safety and security programs throughout the state.
“One of the most critical services government provides is the monitoring of our food supply to ensure that it is safe,” Governor David Paterson said.
“Our food lab is one of the best in the nation, and it is recognized as a leader not for the bricks and mortar, but rather for the team of skilled professionals that work there. By rebuilding the laboratory here in the Capital District, we will be able to provide our existing and talented staff with a state-of-the-art facility that will enable us to better fulfill our responsibility of ensuring a safe food supply for all New Yorkers,” Hooker said.
The New York State Food Laboratory has expertise in food chemistry, food microbiology and pesticide residue.
As a division of the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, the lab supports the department’s regulatory programs in the areas of food safety, milk control and horticulture.
Currently, there are 42 state employees housed at the food lab, including 30 chemists, bacteriologists and microbiologists.
The Food Lab is currently located in an outdated building at the Harriman State Office Campus in Albany.
The building also houses the New York State Metrology Laboratory, which certifies standards for weight and measures, and certifies new types of weighing and measuring devices.
The metrology lab, also a component of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has seven employees, all of whom will be relocated when the new food lab is built in Capital District.
The current building is in need of major renovations in order to accommodate the advanced testing performed there.
The food lab administers numerous different programs, including food analysis; microbiology; food and dairy chemistry; animal feed and pet food analysis; fertilizer and lime analysis; wine and liquor analysis; food safety and security programs; and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), which is part of a national infrastructure that responds to food emergencies.
The Food Lab also has cooperative agreements with USDA for a microbiological data program to detect pathogens in fresh food and a pesticide data program to test fruit, vegetables, and public drinking water for pesticide residues.