DoD Food Analysis and Diagnostics

DoD FADL Foodborne Illness Investigation

Last Updated: August 02, 2018
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‚ÄčA foodborne illness is an incident in which a person (or people) experiences an illness after the ingestion of food or beverage (water, ice).


Submit all requests for food poisoning/foodborne illness testing on DA Form 7539. Refer to Appendix 1 for sample form and completion instructions.
Samples may be shipped refrigerated or frozen depending on the circumstances. Contact the lab form information on if refrigeration.

Chain of Custody (COC) - If you have questions on whether a particular sample needs COC initiated, call us for guidance. If you cannot reach us and are still unsure about COC, fill out the COC paperwork. It is better to initiate COC when it is not necessary, versus not starting COC, when it is truly needed. Certain samples need COC because the results could be challenged by the producer and could even end up going to court. Without a documented COC, the sample integrity and validity of the results could be questioned.

DA Form 4137 Evidence/Property Custody DocumentExternal Link and DA Form 7539 Request for Veterinary Laboratory Testing & Food Sample RecordExternal Link are located in the DoD Food Analysis and Diagnostics' Resource Materials.

Submit food which is EPIDEMIOLOGICALLY implicated (i.e., samples of actual food eaten, if available). The specific laboratory tests and the order in which they are conducted will be determined by the clinical signs, symptoms, the incubation period and other pertinent facts.

The following information and samples are required:

  1. Food attack rates for each food eaten or suspect meal(s):
    1. Total number of people who consumed the suspect meal(s) or food.
    2. Number of people who consumed the suspect meal(s) or food and became ill.
    3. Number of people who consumed the suspect meal(s) or food and did not become ill.
      Note: Foods eaten 72 hours prior to symptoms should be considered.
  2. Predominate symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, dizziness.
  3. Incubation period: time from ingestion to appearance of symptoms.
  4. Duration of symptoms.
  5. Physician's diagnosis and any medical treatment given.
  6. Laboratory results on cultures of clinical specimens; stool and/or vomitus.
  7. Reports of any mishandling of the suspected food.
  8. Chill and ship suspected samples (bulk foods, food in open containers, and clinical specimens) in separate sterile containers. Submit a minimum of 100 grams of each sample or entire specimen if less than 100 grams. Submit food sample swabs (CulturettesR) in transport growth medium.

Operational (MRE) rations: Submit any leftover suspected components and six unopened components of the same meal and sublot.