The Dairy and Food Laboratory tests samples of milk, milk products, and food products for wholesomeness and compliance with labeling claims. Milk and milk products are tested under a national program called the National Conference of Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS). Under this program, samples are tested for bacteria, somatic cell count, drug residues, proper pasteurization, and other parameters. In addition, water from dairy operations and plants is tested for certain microbiological parameters.
A member of the Dairy Laboratory also performs the duties of a Laboratory Evaluation Officer (LEO). Operating under certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the LEO surveys private milk laboratory staff under the NCIMS "Appendix-N" program to ensure they are capable of properly testing milk.
Food products are analyzed to determine whether they meet federal laws and manufacturer's label statements. In cooperation with the HHSS State Epidemiologist and other city and county health departments, this laboratory tests samples associated with suspected foodborne illness. The laboratory is also a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a national network of federal, state, and local food testing laboratories which maintain Homeland Security readiness. Currently, the laboratory operates under a USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service grant to upgrade facilities and equipment as part of the FERN program.