Find the right water testing lab for Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule compliance
Although the Food Safety Modernization Act allows nine methods for testing agricultural water, finding labs to do these tests can be tricky. Use this map to find a lab near you.
While a majority of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is coming into effect in the next three years, when it comes to agricultural water, growers have a little more time get into their routine. This is because there have been changes to the types of tests allowed under the rule – but this expansion in available tests doesn’t mean finding the right lab will be easy.
When figuring out where you can get your water tested, you need to consider both the testing methods available at the labs you are looking at, as well as how quickly you can get samples to the labs. The FSMA PSR currently allows nine tests, all of which enumerate (or count) the number of E. coli in the water. The allowed tests are:
- Method 1103.1
- Method 1603
- Method 1604
- Method D 5392-93
- Method 9213 D
- Method 9222 B
- Method 9223 B 24-hour with Quanti-tray 2000
- Method 9223 B 18-hour with Quanti-tray 2000
- Hach Method 10029
Think of a method number like the scientific name of a species. Scientists call corn “Zea mays” to make sure other scientists are on the same page, and these method numbers are how people deeply involved in water testing refer to the tests. The “common name” of some of these tests are:
- Colilert or Colilert 18 with Quantitray 2000
- Modified mTEC or original mTEC
- MI agar, mEndo followed by NA-MUG
- m-ColiBlue 24
When selecting a lab, it needs to be near your farm. Under the rule, you only have six hours from the time you collect the sample until it needs to be at the lab for testing. This means that mailing a sample in is out of the question, or if a local health department sends samples they receive to the state water lab in Lansing, it may also take too long.
To aid growers in finding a local lab, Michigan State University Extension employees have surveyed both public and private water testing labs from around the state. The information can be found in the below map, which highlights labs that offer the tests allowed by the PSR, as well as other information that can help you reach out to a lab and figure out how to get the water tests you need done. Note, the map is likely to change with time as labs adapt to the rule along with growers.
If you aren’t currently testing your water, now is a good time to start. It can take time to work out the kinks in your sampling protocol, and knowing what is going on with E. coli in your water and adjusting irrigation accordingly is a good agricultural practice. If you are a grower who has to comply with FSMA, total your produce sales and use the table below to get an idea of when you need to start your FSMA-compliant water testing. For more information on what standards water needs to meet and testing frequency, see “FSMA Produce Safety Rule Water Requirements: Insights to Get You Organized!” from the Produce Safety Alliance.
Business size (in produce sales)
Years to comply
All other businesses (>$500K)
Small businesses (>$250K-500K)
Very small businesses (>$25K-250K)
For labs offering testing
If you are a lab who offers one of the above tests and want to be included on this map for Michigan growers, you can fill out a form detailing a little bit more about your lab, which will then be added to the map above. The online form can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/MIWaterLabForm.
For additional information for labs including a sheet of frequently asked questions that staffers can reference for responding to farmer questions, see “Farmers who grow produce that is commonly eaten raw will be contacting water testing labs to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).”
For more information on on-farm food safety, as well as updates on the PSR, visit the MSU Extension Agrifood Safety Webpage.
Funding for this article was made possible in part by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in the written materials do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices or organization imply endorsement by the United States Government.