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Harriman campus to be home to $40M state food lab

By The Business Review

The New York State Food Laboratory is building a $40 million lab facility at the Harriman Research and Technology Campus in Albany.

It will be the first structure built on the 330-acre campus in decades, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker.

The new lab will replace what the state called an outdated facility. It will also house the State Metrology Laboratory and both divisions of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The state said all 49 state employees that work at the current facility will be retained.

The 70,000-square-foot, three-story laboratory, which will be designed and constructed by the State Office of General Services, will be located about 100 yards from the existing laboratory which is now housed in Building 7 on the State Office Campus. The new lab will include advanced instrumentation and biological and chemical containment systems to enhance its food safety and agricultural product testing programs.

“Food safety is front and center on everyone’s mind these days, and this new laboratory will enable the State to better respond to food related emergencies, whether accidental or intentional through enhanced testing capabilities,” Hooker said.

Dan Rice, director of the New York State Food Laboratory, said, one of the missions for the lab is to assist in the state’s food safety efforts through surveillance testing and laboratory support for food borne illness outbreak prevention and response.

“This new laboratory facility will greatly improve our already excellent food safety programs, as well as several other laboratory programs that support the state’s food and agriculture industries,” he said.

The food lab also is part of a national infrastructure of laboratories that respond to food emergencies, called the Food Emergency Response Network. The lab has cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Microbiological Data Program to detect pathogens in fresh food and the Pesticide Data Program to test fruit, vegetables, and public drinking water for pesticide residues and drinking water for a variety of pharmaceutical products.

Last year, about 140,000 analyses on more than 19,000 samples of food, beverage, animal feed, fertilizer and lime samples were performed at the New York State Food Lab as part of regulatory surveillance programs, food borne illness outbreak investigations, consumer complaints, and investigations of suspected food adulteration. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets said its food safety programs played a role in several investigations that led to 317 food recalls in 2008 for undeclared allergens, undeclared ingredients, chemical contamination, heavy metals and bacterial contamination.


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