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San Francisco Laboratory (SANFL)

Photo of San Francisco Laboratory (SANFL)

Program Capabilities

Food Analysis

The San Francisco Laboratory (SANFL) has been recognized nationally for its areas of expertise in microbiology, virology, sterility, bacterial endotoxins, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and whole gene sequencing (WGS), bacterial and fungal sequencing, organoleptic evaluation, heavy metals and toxic elements detection, and food color and additive analyses.  Proficient specialization has made it a “go-to” problem-solving laboratory and source for skilled technical methodology development.


The Chemistry Lab specializes in low-level detection (parts per trillion) of toxic elements in foods and feed, and is working to validate hand-held tools (e.g., portable X-ray fluorescence) for rapid toxic element screening of regulated products in the field.  In addition to toxic element analysis, novel approaches for improving analyses and detection of additives and colors in food and feed (e.g., sulfites) are a key focus.  The SANFL is recognized nationally and internationally for its organoleptic sensory group, which provided support during operations such as the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Deep Water Horizon.


Innovations are important in our laboratory.  The Microbiology Lab participated in the regulatory method development for the detection of Norwalk virus and Hepatitis virus and has participated in collaborative validations of methodologies for Listeria spp, Salmonella spp, Bacillus cereus, and pathogenic E. coli.  The lab is recognized for its strong capabilities in bacterial and fungal identification using whole genome sequencing, 16s rRNA sequencing, Diversilab Rapid Strain Typing, Digital 3D Real Time PCR, Biofire Film Array, and Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight.  In addition to pathogen expertise, the Microbiology Lab has proficiency in sterility testing on drugs and medical devices, and analyzing low-acid canned food products for container integrity and evidence of microbial contamination.

Specialized Capabilities

The laboratory maintains an Organoleptic Training Room designed to train analysts in detection of decomposition odors.  The lab also has a HEPA-filtered room dedicated to elemental analysis and a clean room for sterility testing of pharmaceuticals and devices.  SANFL currently is the only laboratory performing regulatory analyses for enteric viruses, and Hep A in produce.

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