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Denver Human and Animal Food Laboratory (DENLHAF)

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Program Capabilities

The Denver Human and Animal Food Laboratory (DENLHAF) is a multi-disciplinary lab performing Domestic and Import regulatory sample analyses in the Human and Animal Food Program (HAF).  In addition, the lab provides method development and research through the staff of the Animal Drugs Research Center (ADRC).  The Denver Human and Animal Food Laboratory is accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard and is functionally organized into two regulatory branches:  Microbiology and Chemistry.  ADRC is an internationally recognized research group specializing in veterinary residue methods development in support of the Chemistry Branch’s regulatory efforts.

Microbiology Branch

As the originator of the “high throughput” or “high efficiency” microbiological lab model, the Denver Human and Animal Food Laboratory has taken the lead in human and animal food testing.  The lab efficiently conducts numerous microbiological analyses on a wide range of consumer products.  Typical analyses performed include microbial identification and quantification of pathogens in domestic and imported foods, cosmetics, and dietary-like supplements; testing of alkaline phosphatase in dairy products; measuring low-acid canned food pH and water activity; analyzing the integrity of food containers; performing assays of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis) feed contaminants; and virology testing.  Additional microbiological methods include antibiotic resistance testing, DNA fish barcoding, microbial limit testing, PFGE (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) for bacterial strain verification and linkage to outbreaks, and WGS (whole genome sequencing) for a more in-depth determination of species strains and outbreak source identification.

Chemistry Branch

The Chemistry Branch analyzes a wide range food and feed samples for many different chemical residues and additives.  Veterinary drug residues are determined in fish, game meat, and milk samples from farming operations worldwide.  The General Chemistry section analyzes a variety of food commodities for the presence of permitted and non-permitted colors, food additives, and industrial chemicals.  Typical chemistry work includes the determination of residues and additives in imported food, antibiotics in milk, illegal drug residues in animal tissues, medicated feed analysis, and testing of dietary supplements for regulated ingredients.  The DENLHAF chemistry lab has garnered national recognition for emergency response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the development of methods for the analysis of pet treats for illegal antibiotics and antivirals, and the development of comprehensive methods for the elucidation of natural- and artificial-color components in foods and cosmetics.

Specialized Resources and Capabilities

  • Mass Spectrometric Analytical Suite
  • Advanced Chemical Instrumentation Suite
  • Food Allergen Testing
  • Broad-Spectrum Artificial- and Natural-Colorant Determination
  • National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System
  • Antibiotic Resistance Testing
  • Whole Genome Sequencing of Pathogenic Organisms
  • Enhanced Pulsed-field Gel Electrophoresis Suite
  • Food Container Integrity Analysis
  • DNA Fish Barcoding
  • The ADRC is responsible for the development of analytical methods to isolate, identify, and quantify animal drug residues and their metabolites in animal and fish tissues, and animal products such as milk.


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