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National Forensic Chemistry Center (NFCC)

Forensic Chemistry Center (FCC) building


Program Capabilities

The National Forensic Chemistry Center (NFCC) is FDA’s only forensic laboratory providing specialized services in analytical chemistry and molecular/microbiology related to adulteration/contamination, counterfeiting, and tampering of FDA-regulated products, including drugs, dietary supplements, foods, cosmetics, veterinary feeds, tobacco products, and medical devices.  A broad array of instrumentation and technical expertise has uniquely positioned the NFCC to analyze complex and atypical samples and to provide analytical support for public health crisis investigations across the globe.   The laboratory’s main campus is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a newly-renovated 64,000 square-foot facility. NFCC provides expert technical support and forensic laboratory services for the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations to protect the consumer from fraudulent, counterfeit and harmful products.  NFCC’s highly trained scientists provide sample testing, analytical method development and research as well as expert testimony in criminal trials on results of forensic analyses.  The NFCC is accredited by ANSI-National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in the field of Forensic Testing.  NFCC also plays a significant role in many domestic and international public-health emergency investigations involving potential chemical contamination of FDA-regulated products.  NFCC scientists have established global partnerships and provide problem solving in support of substandard and falsified products. NFCC scientists participate in field testing using hand-held tools and provide training to Agency and international scientists and field investigators on emerging methods and new forensic tools.  NFCC is a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a network of laboratories at the federal, state, and local levels organized by the FDA and USDA that is dedicated to protecting the nation's food supply.  NFCC includes a network of satellite laboratories at selected International Mail Facilities (IMFs) throughout the country. Analysts at each location employ a rapid screening “toolkit” to examine unknown (unlabeled/mislabeled) products for the presence of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The operating satellite laboratories are currently located in Chicago, Miami and New York City.  Laboratories in Los Angeles and Honolulu are scheduled to come online by the end of FY24.

Specialized Capabilities

The NFCC uses a variety of tools and techniques to identify targeted and non-targeted chemical substances, to quantitate targeted analytes, to identify pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms, to investigate cases of counterfeiting, product tampering and economic adulteration, and to detect and characterize large biomolecules. 

  • Elemental/Inorganic Analysis
    • Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES)
    • Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), coupled with HPLC
    • X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF)
    • Ion chromatography (IC)
    • Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS), coupled with HPLC or GC
    • Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy (CRDS)
  • Mass Spectrometric Analysis
    • Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS, GC-MS/MS)
    • Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MSn, LC-MS/MS, QTRAP, Orbitrap, QTOF) 
    • Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS)
    • Gas Chromatography with Fourier Transform Infrared and Mass Spectrometric Detection (GC/FT-IR/MS)
  • Microbiological Analysis 
    • Traditional culture testing / microbiological screen
    • Real-time polymerase chain reaction (Real-time PCR)
    • 16S-rDNA sequencing
    • Whole genome sequencing
    • Sterility
    • DNA seafood barcoding
  • Quantitative Analysis
    • High performance liquid chromatography-UV detection (HPLC-UV)
    • High performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS)
    • Gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID)
    • Ultraviolet/Visible Spectroscopy (UV-VIS)
    • Enzyme-linked immunoassay / microplate Spectrometer (ELISA)
  • Spectroscopic Analysis
    • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR, macro/micro/imaging)
    • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) 
    • Raman Spectroscopy
    • Ultraviolet/Visible Spectroscopy (UV-VIS)
  • Trace Analysis 
    • Microchemical tests
    • Image Analysis (2DIA, 3DIA)
    • Light Microscopy (SLM, PLM, DLM)
    • Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (FE-SEM/EDS)
    • X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD)
    • Alternate light source analysis (CDx, VSC, Crimescope) 
  • Hand-held/Portable Analysis 
    • Raman Spectroscopy
    • Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy
    • Direct Analysis in Real-Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS)
    • Radian Atmospheric Pressure Solids Analysis Probe Mass Spectrometry (Radian-ASAP MS)
    • Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry GC-MS)


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