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Irvine Human and Animal Food Laboratory (IRVLHAF)

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Program Capabilities


Irvine Human and Animal Food Laboratory (IRVLHAF) is a multi-functional laboratory performing predominantly import work in FDA’s foods, drugs, cosmetics, veterinary feeds, and medical devices program areas.  The lab is organized functionally in two main branches:  Microbiology and Chemistry.

Microbiology Branch

  • High-volume/high-throughput general microbiological testing of foods, feeds, environmental swabs, and cosmetics
  • Low-acid canned foods and canned seam analysis
  • Certified pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis for Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli
  • Molecular techniques, including whole genome sequencing and 16S & 18S ribosomal RNA sequencing
  • FERN Microbiological Testing Program
  • Robust and productive method development program
  • Allergen testing in foods

Food Chemistry Branch

The Chemistry Branch is organized by technical program and discipline with the following capabilities:

  • Performing analyses for trace chemotherapeutics and tissue residues (e.g., nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, gentian violet/malachite green, chloramphenicol) in seafood.
  • Screening seafood for chemical indices of decomposition (biogenic amines) is provided by organoleptic analysis, and sensory training/outreach is provided for state, local, and industry inspectors.
  • Screening for poisons through FERN-facilitated capabilities, using both gas chromatography mass spectroscopy and liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy.

Pesticides & Industrial Chemicals

  • IRVLHAF is the original “High Throughput Chemistry Laboratory,” providing rapid- and high-throughput quantitative and confirmatory analysis of imported and domestic fruits, vegetables, seafood, and animal feeds for pesticide residues at sub-part-per-million levels.
  • IRVLHAF is a pioneer in ORA electronic reporting, with a more-than-25-year history of electronic reporting to deliver information to regulatory decision points in a rapid and timely manner.
  • IRVLHAF is one of the largest and oldest FDA pesticide analytical laboratories.
  • IRVLHAF provides continued development and improvement of pesticide residue methodology to drive detection limits lower while reducing organic chemical waste.

Filth & Sanitation/Microanalytical Analysis

  • Analysis of a wide variety of imported and domestic food products for the presence of filth elements
  • Detection of adulteration in foods and drugs in feed
  • Detection of BSE-associated contaminants in feed through microscopy and ruminant protein PCR analysis
  • Processing of consumer complaints

Specialized Capabilities  

Center of Excellence - Regulatory Mass Spectrometry  

This center is staffed by world-class experts in mass spectrometry who develop and implement rapid detection confirmatory methods for regulatory use.  Examples include detection of nitrofurans; analysis of erectile dysfunction dietary supplements, natural products, steroids, weight-loss and blood-pressure products; and detection of adulteration of foods, drugs, dietary supplements, and herbal products using novel mass spectroscopy methods.

Center of Excellence – Entomological basis of Filth & Sanitation  

IRVLHAF is staffed with experts in the identification of animal hair and feathers, as well as mites, parasitic wasps, flies, beetles, mosquitoes, and other food storage insects (whole and insect fragments), which are vectors of foodborne disease.

Emerging Center of Excellence – Regulatory Molecular Microbiology, Virology & Allergen Testing  

  • This center develops rapid molecular methods including unique qPCR reagents for the detection and characterization of critical food borne illness-related pathogens:
    • Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, mycobacteria species
  • This center performs genetic sequencing to support regulatory activities for:
    • Unknown pathogen identification in environmental sampling and in foods and cosmetics products
    • Seafood product speciation (fish barcoding) to identify economic fraud
  • This center develops virology methods:
    • Norovirus/Hepatitis A – WGS method development
  • This center performs allergen testing:
    • Gluten, egg, soy, peanut, chocolate


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