The West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Laboratories Unit test a variety of different products for a plethora of various analytes. WVDA Regulatory Officers inspect facilities and collect samples, which in turn are analyzed in our laboratories. Highly trained scientists analyze samples for bacteriological, viral, toxin, foreign material, and chemical contaminations. We analyze samples for compliance measures and indications on label claims. We also conduct various federally funded research, development, and surveillance projects.

The WVDA READ Laboratories Unit conduct testing for:

  • Regulatory and Compliance Measures
  • Foodborne Outbreaks
  • Service Samples
  • Surge Capacity Testing
  • Research and Development
  • Consumer Complaints
  • Large Scale National Events

Pesticide and Residue Laboratory

Pesticide and Toxin Analysis
Using computerized high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and photodiode array, chemists analyze food products, water, and environmental samples for pesticide residues and toxins which could prove harmful if ingested by humans or animals.

Common pesticides & toxins we test for:

We also perform analysis for a variety of different drugs and residues. The WVDA screens for controlled substances as well as various residues in a variety of food, water, and nutritional products.

Common controlled substances and drugs that we test for:
Apomorphine, Berbine, Codeine, Cochicine, Digitoxigenen, Digoxin, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrastine, Hydrocodone, Hyoscamine, Levorphanol, Lobeline, Morphine, Nicotine, Ouabain, Oxycodone, Pentazocine, Pilocarpine, Scopolamine, Warfarin, and Yomimbine

WVDA Hemp Laboratory

Cultivation of hemp for commercial purposes was expanded in 2017 by the West Virginia Legislature’s Industrial Hemp Development Act, Code §19-12-E. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture licenses growers and performs testing of industrial hemp during its growing period to determine the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol levels. THC is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in Cannabis sativa L. that is of interest for its pharmacological and toxicological characteristics. The WVDA hemp laboratory is accredited for 1 method.

Hemp Laboratory 2

Using highly sensitive equipment, our chemists analyze hemp for the quantitation of Δ9-THC post-decarboxylation, or Total THC for federal regulatory compliance and consumer safety.

WVDA inspectors collect official samples in the field while maintaining a proper chain of custody. In preparation for sample analysis, the plant is dried to a constant weight and ground. Samples are placed in frozen storage until they are analyzed for Δ9-THC post-decarboxylation. Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) is used to chromatographically separate and quantitate the THC and THC-A.

Δ9-THC post-decarboxylation is calculated using the percentages of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), then calculating the loss of CO2 in THC-A.
%Total Δ9-THC = % Δ9-THC + (%Δ9-THCA × 0.877)

Results are used to confirm the total THC concentration on a dry weight basis. Samples that have results above 0.3 total THC are retested in duplicate to confirm results.

Quality control practices are critical to produce sound results. The WVDA Hemp Laboratory uses ISO 17025 standards to produce precise, accurate testing and calibration data.

USDA Interim Final Rule on Domestic Hemp Production

WVDA Proposed Legislative Rules Regarding Hemp and Hemp Products

Please visit the link to currently proposed legislative rule on Hemp products.

Please visit the link to the current proposed changes to the legislative rule on Hemp.

Microbiology Laboratory

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s highly skilled scientists analyze a variety of raw and ready-to-eat foods, water, pet food, ice cream, hemp products, and environmental samples for bacteriological, viral, toxins, and foreign material contaminants.

The WVDA food laboratory is accredited for 19 methods. This was accomplished through a FDA grant that provided funding from 2012 through 2018. The accreditation process involves the standardization of quality assurance practices regarding to management and technical competencies. This designation allows the laboratory to assist the state in complying with the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS). The accreditation is used to prove the laboratory’s technical competence and support analysis for USDA and FDA programs.

PJLA Testing Logo

The WVDA Microbiology Laboratory is ISO 17025:2017 accredited by the International Organization for Standardization and PJLA.

We analyze samples for bacteria, viruses, and toxins for:
Regulatory and Compliance Testing

We analyze Service Samples for Food Manufacturing HACCP Programs

We analyze foods for Large-Scale National Events such as the RNC, DNC, Presidential Inauguration, and Sporting Events.

We provide Surge Capacity for Federal and State Laboratories throughout the United States.

We analyze samples related to Consumer Complaints.

Consumer Complaints

The WVDA conducts all food related outbreak testing for the state of West Virginia.

We analyze for the following bacteria:
Salmonella spp., General E. coli, Listeria spp., Coliforms, APC, E. coli O157:H7, Big 6 STEC’s, Staph aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella spp., Vibrio spp., Cronobacter spp., Campylobacter spp., Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (plague), Francisella tularensis, Bacillus cereus

We analyze for the following viruses:
Hepatitis A, Norovirus, & Murine Norovirus

We analyze for the following toxins:
C. botulinum toxins, Ricin, Staphylococcal enterotoxins, Abrin, Tetrodotoxin, T-2, Aflatoxin, & α-Amanitin

Dairy Laboratory

Several state laws promulgate the inspection and collection of dairy samples for analysis. Soft-service ice cream samples are collected after inspection of manufacturing sites within WV and tested for sanitary conditions. The laboratory receives frozen desserts and dairy product samples for coliform bacterial and standard plate counts from facility inspections. Other fluid milk in packaged form and other dairy products are collected from retail sites or under contract testing. They are tested for compliance to their labeling of milk fat.

We analyze samples related to Consumer Complaints


Picture of Dairy Laboratory Worker

Agricultural Materials Laboratory

The Agricultural Materials Laboratory conducts analysis primarily for compliance and regulatory purposes. The samples submitted to the laboratory are submitted by the Regulatory Officers within the West Virginia Department of Agriculture; however, consumer samples are accepted to verify the quality of forage. The WVDA agriculture materials laboratory is accredited for 4 methods.

A diverse number of analysis are performed on animal feed (including pet food), fertilizer, forage and lime. This includes protein, crude fat, crude fiber, loss on drying (moisture), acid detergent lignon, acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber, ash, dietary starch, nitrogen, soluble potash, and direct available phosphorus.

We analyze animal feed and forage Service Samples
Service Sampling Request Area

We analyze samples related to Consumer Complaints
Consumer Complaints

Fertilizer and lime samples are analyzed at the Charleston Laboratory. The WVDA Regulatory Officer submit official samples, and service samples can also be submitted by individuals, county extension agents, and companies. Emphasis in testing is placed on confirmation of label claims of these products. Quality control procedures within the laboratory are stringent and personnel routinely participate in proficiency sample programs (i.e. Magruder Fertilizer, and the AFPC Fertilizer programs) to assure the precision and accuracy of the laboratory’s results and the competency of the laboratory staff. The laboratory also has the capabilities of performing microscopy to check samples for adulteration or contamination

Meat chemistry is also conducted within this laboratory and all testing is performed according to the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection (USDA FSIS) Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook. The analyses include crude protein, fat, moisture and salt.

We analyze fertilizer and lime Service Samples
Service Sampling Request Area

We analyze samples related to Consumer Complaints
Consumer Complaints

Seed Laboratory

The Seed Laboratory receives samples of agricultural, vegetable, lawn, tree, and shrub seeds collected from wholesale and retail outlets by READ Regulatory Officers in support of the WV Seed Law. Service samples can also be submitted by individuals, county extension agents, and companies. Samples are primarily analyzed for germination, purity, and noxious weed seed for confirmation of label claims. The Seed Laboratory follows quality control and method guidelines from the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The Seed Lab offers germination, purity, noxious weed and other special tests for a variety of seed. Official samples are collected by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture Regulatory Officers in support of the West Virginia Seed Law.

We analyze seed Service Samples

Service Sampling Request Area

We analyze samples related to Consumer Complaints

Consumer Complaints

Research Projects

Since 2010, the WVDA has been awarded every year a highly competitive Microbiological and Chemistry Cooperative Agreement through the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). FERN is a collaboration of federal, state, and local laboratories and universities which integrate the nation's food-testing laboratories into a network that can respond to emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food. The grant supports funding for salaries of employees, supplies, equipment, training, travel, and maintenance costs related to research, validation, proficiency, and surveillance testing. The WVDA Microbiology and Pesticide / Residue Laboratories analyze samples and controls for FERN. This included samples for detection of traditional foodborne analytes, as well as bioterrorism agents. The WVDA Microbiology Laboratory analyze FERN samples for ricin, abrin, B. anthracis, C. botulinum, F. tularensis, Y. pestis, Salmonella spp, and Staphylococcal enterotoxins. The WVDA Pesticide / Residue Laboratory analyze FERN samples for the detection of twenty-one (21) various pesticides, metals, controlled substances, and general poisons.

What we do

We keep America safe through research, development, and validation of new detection methods for foodborne contaminants, chemical adulterants, and bioterrorism agents

The WVDA receives federal funding for a variety of research & development projects
  • The WVDA READ Microbiology and Chemistry Laboratories are 1 of 10 Level 1 (highest level) FERN labs in the nation
  • Designated the Go-To Laboratory in the US for Ricin detection in foods
  • 13 Peer reviewed scientific publications and 8 official USDA, FDA, & FERN methods
Developed the FIRST method in the country for Abrin detection in Foods

We Led a validation study for this method with State Health, Agricultural, and University Laboratories throughout the US.

The WVDA began the first national proficiency program for the detection of abrin toxin in foods where twelve (12) laboratories participated throughout the country. The WVDA had previously developed, validated, and authored the official FERN abrin detection method. Chemistry and Microbiological Laboratories throughout the country participated in the proficiency test.

Designed and led the first national Abrin proficiency testing program in foods for the Food Emergency Response Network.

The WVDA was the only state laboratory in the country to work with FDA Laboratories to validate a method for the detection of Norovirus and Hepatitis A in Shellfish.

Performed a large-scale validation study to expand an Anthrax detection method into USDA commodities

Developed a handheld screening method & led a multi-laboratory validation study for the detection of Ricin in foods.

Validated a method for the USDA Specialty Crops Program to detect Salmonella in apples by combining immumomagnetic separation with liquid crystal.

Data from FERN research has been presented at meetings such as the International Associated of Food Protection and the American Society for Microbiology.

WVDA Scientists conduct laboratory training courses with scientists for the USDA, FDA, & FERN in State Labs and Universities throughout the US.

Consumer Complaint Samples

The WVDA takes all consumer complaints seriously and will accept consumer complaint samples. Sample preservation and collection are vital to receiving quality results, therefore it is required that prior to submitting samples, the laboratory must be contacted. Samples collected by an individual are considered service samples and are not permitted to be accepted as official samples unless collected by an authorized WVDA Regulatory Officer. The staff will discuss with you if the laboratory has the available services to meet your request.

For questions, please contact the Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division Laboratory at (304) 558-2227.

Food Sample Submission Request Form
Feed Forage Sample Submission Form
Fertilizer and Liming Materials Sample Submission Form
Seed Submission Form

Service Samples

The WVDA accepts service samples for analysis. In order to submit a sufficient amount of sample and maintain its’ integrity for producing quality results, it is required that prior to submitting samples, the laboratory must be contacted. Contact the laboratory to see if the laboratory has the available services to meet your request.

Please contact the Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division Laboratory at (304) 558-2227.

Food Sample Submission Request Form
Feed Forage Sample Submission Form
Fertilizer and Liming Materials Sample Submission Form
Seed Submission Form