Sampling and analysis programme

The laboratory fulfils its statutory food control responsibilities by means of coordinated regional Food Surveillance Programmes agreed between the laboratories, the Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and the FSAI. These include:

Chemical Analysis of Programmed Food Testing.

Microbiological examination of Programmed Food Testing.

EU Co-Ordinated Programmes.

Food intake surveys.

Sampling for the food control testing is conducted by Authorised Officers, including:


Local Authority Veterinary Inspectors  
National Standards Authority

The laboratory additionally provides analytical services for food complaints and the Food Export Certification requirements. 

Chemical Testing

The National Chemical Food Sampling and Analysis Programme incorporates a broad range of parameters including mycotoxins, other natural contaminants, heavy metals and other food processing contaminants, food contact materials, food additives and flavourings and some quality parameters.

Dublin PAL is the specialised laboratory for a extensive range of tests that are available on a National basis, including mycotoxins, food contact materials and PAH testing. A wide range of non-specialised tests is also available. Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) from EHS offices in the four HSE Regions (Dublin Mid Leinster, Dublin North East, South and West) and also Officers from other agencies sample a variety of foods at different sampling points including manufacturing, distribution, retail, catering and port and submit them to the laboratory for testing.

Where legislation exists for a parameter, the samples are checked for compliance with a statutory limit. Some of the sampling and analysis is performed as part of monitoring and risk assessment of food safety issues that may have emerged more recently. Such test results may be used in the setting of statutory limits in future legislation.

The discovery of new contaminants in food, together with new regulations or lower regulatory limits for existing food additives and contaminants, means that there is a need to research and develop reliable and robust analytical methods required for survey and enforcement purposes. The chemistry Method Research and Development (MR&D) Section implements new methods of analysis, extends existing methods to new matrices and examines new analytical techniques. The MR&D Section regularly uses the expertise and personnel from other laboratory Sections to achieve these aims.

Laboratory Contact for Chemical MR&D: Mr. Chris Griffin.

The laboratory is currently developing methods of analysis for the speciation of Arsenic, Mercury, Selenium and Tin. The bioavailability and/or toxicity of these, and other, metals are dependent on the form or species in which they exist. The quantification of the individual metal species in foods is vital in risk assessment. In 2006 a PerkinElmer Elan DRC II ICP-MS, a PerkinElmer Series 200 HPLC and a Perkin Elmer Clarus 500 GC were installed as part of the development programme.

Please note that tests are developed / validated in specific food types which predominantly reflect the statutory requirements. Individual tests are not available in all foodstuffs.

Requirements for the submission of food samples for routine chemical testing

1. Please refer to the National Chemical Food Sampling Programme for information on the types of samples and minimum sample quantities required for each parameter.

2. Food samples submitted for monitoring compliance with EU food laws must be sampled in compliance with the appropriate EU sampling regulation where available.

3. If a number of units of a product are required to make up the required quantity of sample, please ensure that all units are of one batch number. Prior to analysis, all units of the sample are combined and sub-samples are tested. In the event of a non-compliant result being obtained, it is not possible to identify the problematic batch where a composite sample of units from different batches has been tested.

4. When attaching adhesive labels to samples ensure that information such as ingredient lists, nutrition labelling, claims etc. is not obscured. If the sample is small in size and this is not practical, the sample may be placed in a clear plastic bag to which the label can be attached.

5. It is a requirement of the laboratory accreditation to "ISO 17025:2017 – General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories", that there is a contract between a customer and the laboratory. The National Sample Submission Form is such a contract. For this reason, it is a requirement that the field "Test(s) Required Chemical" is completed on the form and that the required parameter(s) are specified as indicated in the programme. Entries such as "chemical" or "compositional" analysis are not sufficient.

6. Please ensure that all samples for chemical testing reach the Laboratory before 3 p.m. on the day of delivery.

7. In the event that scheduled samples cannot be submitted for testing, please inform the specified laboratory contact as soon as possible so that the laboratory resources can be reallocated to other work.

8. Laboratory contact details are provided in the Programme and also in the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website. Please phone or e-mail the appropriate named contact with queries regarding test parameters or sampling.

9. When querying a test result, the Executive Analytical Chemist who is named on the test report should be contacted.

Food Samples for Microbiological Testing

  1. Food samples which would normally be refrigerated should be stored in a refrigerator immediately and submitted to the Laboratory within 24h.
  2. Samples which would normally be refrigerated and which cannot be submitted to the Laboratory within 24h should be frozen and submitted as soon as possible thereafter. All samples must be accompanied by a fully completed Laboratory Analysis Request Form.
  3. All samples should be minimally handled prior to receipt at the Laboratory.
  4. The history of sample handling and storage may affect the microbiological results.
  5. A minimum of 150g of food sample is required for microbiological analysis.

Storage of samples for microbiological analysis

  1. Frozen foods should be frozen.
  2. Chilled/refrigerated foods should be stored between 0 and 5oC and not frozen
  3. Dried foods, un-blown cans and foods not generally refrigerated need not be chilled but should be stored and transported at a temperature of less than 20oC

List of microbiological tests


ACC at various temperatures

Bacillus cereus and other pathogenic Bacillus spp.

Clostridium   perfringens

Sulphite-reducing Clostridia

Salmonella spp.

Campylobacter spp.

Listeria   monocytogenes (detection & enumeration)

Listeria spp.

Staphylococcus   aureus

Vibrio   parahaemolyticus

Escherichia coli


Yeast/Mould counts



Following a review of pricing the following charges will now apply for Microbiological Testing 

Food Testing:


No of Tests

Price € (Nett -   excluding VAT)

Food Sample



Food Sample



Food Sample



Swab Testing:

Swab Type

No of swabs

No. of Tests

Price € (Nett - excluding VAT)









The prices indicated are guideline prices.

Where specific parameters are requested for particular matrices (food samples) which may require extra work, the charges may be higher.

Additional charges will be applied where chemical testing is also being carried out

Last updated 17/08/2021