DoD Food Analysis and Diagnostics
DoD FADL Sample Submission Guidance 

FADL Samples

"The adequacy and condition of the sample or specimen received for examination are of primary importance. If samples are improperly collected and mishandled or are unrepresentative of the sampled lot, the laboratory results will be meaningless."     (Andrews, Ralston, 1984)

PURPOSE: This submission guide provides instructions for collecting and submitting samples to the Department of Defense Food and Diagnostic Laboratory and its branches. It provides the testing capabilities of the various labs and the areas they serve. The guide provides information on a variety of products that may be selected for testing. It is not meant to be all inclusive. The sampling details and analyses listed are for samples submitted for routine surveillance testing. Units with the need for special testing due to customer complaints, possible foodborne illnesses, etc., should contact the laboratory prior to shipping the sample. 

 

For information on the use of Chain of Custody form (DA 4137) for samples being submitted, click on When to Use Chain of Custody.



General Information About Sampling and Shipping Laboratory Samples

  1. Samples submitted must be representative of the sample population being tested. If a customer complains about a particular lot of an item it PROBABLY will not do any good to test a different lot unless it also exhibits the same problems.
  2. Is the testing really necessary and cost effective? How many of the same items remain in stock? Would it be better to dispose of the few remaining items than spend SEVERAL dollars in shipping costs and POSSIBLY HUNDREDS more in laboratory costs? When in doubt, call the laboratory.
  3. Requests for laboratory testing of food and like items should be submitted on the DA FORM 7539-R, ‘Request For Veterinary Laboratory Testing’. Samples submitted for other than routine testing should include a complete product history and/or customer complaint history (in addition to the DA FORM 7539-R). The more information you provide the laboratory, the faster and more accurately we will be able to test your samples. See the appropriate section of this guide for the form to use when submitting diagnostic blood or serum samples.
  4. Pack samples CAREFULLY to prevent damage during transit. Individual samples should be placed in separate plastic bags (zip-lock work best) to prevent leakage from inside out and outside in. Serum and blood tubes must be protected from breakage. Wrap them with gauze pads or other absorbent material and then place in a plastic bag. DO NOT PLACE BLOOD/SERUM TUBES BETWEEN TWO FROZEN CHEMICAL ICE PACKS FOR SHIPPING. THEY WILL BREAK!
  5. Ship perishable items in an insulated container with refrigerant.

    a. Pre-cool chilled products to 2°C.

    b. Maintain the correct temperature during transit by using sufficient refrigerant.

    c. If using chemical ice packs, they must be frozen prior to use. Refrigerating them does not get them cold enough.

    d. If using wet ice, place it in heavy plastic bags that will contain the water produced when the ice melts. Do not place products in the same bag with the ice.

    e. Do not use dry ice to ship chilled products.

    f. All chilled shipments must contain a temperature pilot sample that the laboratory can use to assess the arrival temperature of the shipment. The pilot should be similar in type to the samples being submitted. Label the pilot sample as such. Only one pilot sample is required for each shipping container, even though the container may contain a variety of product types.

    g. Dry ice is required to keep frozen samples frozen during shipment. Frozen chemical ice packs will not keep frozen items frozen.

  6. When shipping heavy or bulky items such as large cans or gallon jars of salad dressing, pack the items carefully. Use extra packing material and if necessary, ship in several boxes rather than one very heavy one. If the items are swollen place them in plastic bags to contain any leakage.
  7. Ship perishable samples by express, overnight, next day delivery. Whenever possible, do not ship chilled or frozen samples on Thursday for Friday delivery. The laboratories are not staffed to receive samples on weekends. Therefore, if the samples are not delivered on Friday (for whatever reason), they will probably not be testable when they are finally received the following Monday.
  8. Notify the laboratory whenever a shipment is made. Notification can be telephonic or electronic (E-Mail, FAX, etc.). Include the name of the carrier and tracking number, if known. Whenever possible personnel should utilize the Laboratory Sample Submission database in Lotus Notes to complete and print the DA FORM 7539. This will automatically alert the laboratory to incoming samples.
  9. Shipments from overseas to the Fort Sam Houston or Hawaii lab may require a USDA import certificate. If the permit is not attached, the shipment will be delayed by customs and the samples may not be testable when received. If not cleared by customs, they will be returned to the submitter by the shipping company. If you do not have copies of the appropriate certificates, contact the receiving laboratory for a copy, or check the Laboratory’s web site. Read the USDA permits because they contain specific restrictions on what items can and cannot be submitted. Also, the permits expire annually so be sure you have one that has not expired.
  10. All test request forms should include the name and a DSN or commercial phone number for a point of contact who is familiar with the samples being submitted. This will save the laboratory time should they need additional information prior to testing.

NOTE: Samples of many laboratory request forms are included as enclosures (attachments) to this guide. However, these forms are periodically reviewed and may change. Please contact the laboratory to ensure you have the latest and correct version of any form. If you don’t, one can be faxed to you immediately.

Outside
Temperature

Hours in
Transit

Pounds of
Sample

Pounds of Dry Ice(frozen)

Pounds of Wet Ice(chill)

Below 10°C or 50°F

48
24

1
1

1.3
0.75

2.0
1.25

10°C-27°C or 50°F-80°F

48
24

1
1

1.9
1.3

3.0
2.0

27°C-38°C or 80°F-100°F

48
24

1
1

2.5
1.9

4.0
3.0

Above 38°C or 100°F

48
24

1
1

5.0
2.5

Do Not Ship
4.0

Index

DAIRY ITEMS

  • CHEESE  (Hard, Soft, Processed, Natural)
  • CULTURED DAIRY PRODUCTS
    (Buttermilk, Acidophilus milk, Sour cream, Cottage cheese, Chilled yogurt)
  • FRESH DAIRY PRODUCTS
    (Whole Milk, Low-Fat Milk, Skim Milk, Flavored Milks, Creams {heavy, light, half & half, whipping}, Eggnogs)
  • FROZEN NOVELTIES
  • ICE CREAM/FROZEN YOGURT/SHERBET
  • SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM and YOGURT MIXES
  • UHT MILK

OTHER ITEMS

  • ANIMAL FEEDS and BEDDING
  • CANNED ITEMS
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLES
    GROUND MEATS  (Beef, Pork, Poultry, Trimmings)
  • SALADS and SPREADS (Prepared, processed {bagged}, dips)
  • SANDWICHES
  • TOFU
  • WATER (Bottled, Source, Tap, Ice)

DAIRY ITEMS

CHEESE (Hard, Soft, Processed, Natural)

1. Sample selection
a. Send samples in their unopened original containers. Products in containers larger than 1 pound should be aseptically sampled.

b. Send at least 4 oz of sample.

c. Enclose each container in a separate waterproof bag to contain leakage.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: coliforms, pathogens, yeast and mold

3. Remarks:
Samples should be submitted as chilled specimens.

CULTURED DAIRY PRODUCTS
(Buttermilk, Acidophilus milk, Sour cream, Cottage cheese, Chilled yogurt)

1. Sample selection
a. Send samples in their unopened original containers (no larger than 1 gallon or 1 pound). Aseptically sample from larger containers.

b. Send at least 4 oz of sample

c. Enclose each container in a separate plastic bag to contain leakage.

d. Tape the lid on tub-type containers. Do not tape the tops of milk-type containers.

e. Samples in quart, half gallon and gallon containers should be placed in the shipping carton upright. They are much less likely to leak than when laid on their sides. Use caution not to crush them by placing too much weight (ice or gel packs) on top.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: coliform count
Chemical: phosphatase

3. Remarks
Samples received FROZEN or TOO WARM (greater than 7°C) at the laboratory will not be tested.

FRESH DAIRY PRODUCTS
(Whole Milk, Low-Fat Milk, Skim Milk, Flavored Milks, Creams {heavy, light, half & half, whipping}, Eggnogs)

1. Sample selection
a. Send samples in their unopened original containers (no larger than 1 gallon). Aseptically sample from larger containers.

b. Send at least 4 oz of sample

c. Enclose each container in a separate plastic bag to contain leakage.

d. Do not tape the tops of the containers.

e. Fresh dairy in quart, half gallon and gallon containers should be placed in the shipping carton upright. They are much less likely to leak than when laid on their sides. Use caution not to crush them by placing too much weight (ice or gel packs) on top.

f. Collect and ship samples ASAP after pasteurization. Fluid dairy samples must be received within 72 hrs of pasteurization if a keeping quality is to be performed. Include the date of pasteurization on the request form.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: standard plate count, coliform count, keeping quality (P.I.)
Chemical: phosphatase
Whole milk only – antibiotic screen, freezing point, total acidity

3. Remarks
Fluid/chilled dairy samples must be received at a temperature between 0 and 4.4°C. Samples received at the laborato­ry FROZEN or TOO WARM (greater than 4.4°C) will not be tested.

FROZEN NOVELTIES

1. Sample selection
a. Send an intact retail end item package containing a minimum of 3 units of the same item/same lot

b. Place in a plastic bag to protect from contamination

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: standard plate count, coliform count

3. Remarks
Samples must remain frozen – SHIP WITH DRY ICE ONLY.
Make sure product packaging material does not contact the dry ice directly. This may cause the packaging, especially plastic bags, to become brittle and crack.

ICE CREAM/FROZEN YOGURT/SHERBET

1. Sample selection
a. Send samples in their unopened original containers (no larger than ½ gallon). Aseptically sample from larger containers.

b. Send at least 4 oz of sample

c. Enclose each container in a separate plastic bag to contain leakage.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: standard plate count, coliforms; yogurt – yeast and mold
Chemical: phosphatase (ice cream)

3. Remarks
Samples must remain frozen – SHIP WITH DRY ICE ONLY.

SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM and YOGURT MIXES

1. Sample selection
a. Send samples in their unopened original containers (no larger than 1 gallon). Aseptically sample from larger containers.

b. Send at least 4 oz of sample

c. Enclose each container in a separate plastic bag to contain leakage.

d. Do not tape the tops of the containers.

e. Quart, half gallon and gallon containers should be placed in the shipping carton upright. They are much less likely to leak than when laid on their sides. Use caution not to crush them by placing too much weight (ice or gel packs) on top.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: standard plate count, coliform count, YMC
Chemical: phosphatase (except yogurts)

UHT MILK

1. Sample selection
a. For swelling containers:
Submit 6 containers or packages (3 normal and 3 abnormal) per affected lot. Label packages as "normal" or "abnormal". Be sure to indicate the date of pack or code date on the laboratory request.

b. For shelf life testing:
Submit 6 containers or packages per lot. Be sure to indicate the date of pack or code date on the laboratory request.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: APC, anaerobic plate count, DMC, pH, appearance, and condition
Chemical: dye leak (swelling containers)

3. Remarks
Include all relevant inspection data or ‘customer complaint’ information with the sample request.

 

OTHER ITEMS


ANIMAL FEEDS and BEDDING
1. Sample selection
A MIMIMUM of 1 pound of sample should be submitted for proximate analysis.

2. Routine Testing
Proximate analysis
Microbiological, metals and pesticide analytes are available. Contact the laboratory.

CANNED ITEMS

1. Sample selection
a. For swelling containers:
Submit 6 (3 normal and 3 abnormal) per affected lot. Label as "normal" or "abnormal". Be sure to indicate the date of pack or code date on the laboratory request.

b. For routine testing:
Submit 1 can per lot (minimum of 4 oz of product). Be sure to indicate the date of pack or code date on the laboratory request.

2. Routine Testing
As required by information provided by submitter

3. Remarks
Please provide all pertinent inspection history associated with product submitted
 

ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLES

1. Sample selection
The swab and sponge sampling methods can be used to evaluate cleanliness and sanitation of food contact surfaces in commissaries and dining facilities. A larger surface area can be sampled using the sponge method.

a. Upon special request, the laboratory will provide the sterile swabs, sponge kits and a sampling SOP.

b. Immediately after sampling, sponge and/or swab containers must be shipped chilled to the laboratory on wet ice or frozen gel packs. Maintain temperature at 0 to 4.4°C during transit.

c. Ship for overnight delivery since testing must be done within 24 hours of sampling if results are to be valid.

d. Describe the size of the surface area sampled and what piece of equipment was tested.

e. Do not allow the broth/buffer in the swab tubes to spill or leak from the tube. The quantity in the tube is pre-measured and must remain in the tube for the test to be valid.

2. Pilot Sample
Unused swab tube with diluents

GROUND MEATS  (Beef, Pork, Poultry, Trimmings)

1. Sample selection
a. Submit at least 8 oz. for microbiological testing.

b. Submit at least 1 lb. for fat testing.

c. Submit at least 1.25 lb. for micro and fat.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological – APC, coliforms, E. coli 0157: H7
Chemical – fat (beef only)

3. Remarks
If product is received/sold chilled, submit chilled. If product is received/sold frozen, submit as a frozen sample.

SALADS and SPREADS (Prepared, processed {bagged}, dips)

1. Sample selection
a. Submit a minimum of 4 oz. (100 g.)

b. Send samples in their unopened original containers. Products in containers larger than 1 pound should be aseptically sampled.

c. Place individual samples in a plastic bag to contain leakage.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: APC, coliform, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, yeast and mold, pH.

SANDWICHES

1. Sample selection
a. Microbiological testing requires a minimum of 4 oz (100 grams) of components (MEAT, CHEESE, ETC., excluding the bread). If necessary, submit two sandwiches as one sample (give them the same sample number).

b. Place wrapped sandwiches in separate plastic bags to protect them from leakage and contamination. Pack carefully to prevent crushing.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: APC, coliforms E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes

TOFU

1. Sample selection
a. Submit a minimum of 4 oz. (100 g.)

b. Send samples in their unopened original containers.

c. Place individual samples in a plastic bag to contain leakage.

2. Routine Testing
Microbiological: APC, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia entercoliticus

WATER (Bottled, Source, Tap, Ice)

1. Sample selection
It is essential that NEW bottles be used when submitting samples of collected water (source water, well water, tap water, etc) for trace metal or pesticide testing. Re-used bottles, even when cleaned, can contain high levels of soap, minerals, oils, etc. that can interfere with trace analysis. Samples for pesticide analysis should be submitted in glass bottles. One-time use bottles for pesticide analysis can be purchased from a number of laboratory suppliers. Samples of commercially bottled water should be submitted in their original unopened container.

MINIMUM QUANTITIES REQUIRED FOR TESTING

Microbiological – 500 mL
Chemical – CONUS – 200 mL
OCONUS – 1,000 mL (1 liter)

2. Routine Testing
Microbiology:
Bottled – HPC, Coliforms, P aeruginosa
Others – ‘Colilert’ (coliforms/E.coli)

Chemistry:
Bottled
CONUS plants – heavy metals, inorganic ions
OCONUS plants – heavy metals, inorganic ions, pesticides
Others – as requested

3. Remarks
If you are going to submit samples to the laboratory for heavy metals and pesticide testing you should call or E-mail the lab for guidance and additional instructions.