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Water testing labs in Minnesota for FSMA Produce Safety Rule

This page provides fruit and vegetable farmers with a list of water testing labs in Minnesota that offer agricultural water testing methods that comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

These labs test for E. coli in agricultural water that is used in producing fresh produce.

As a part of the new FSMA Produce Safety Rule, farms covered by the rule are required to test agricultural water used in producing fresh produce for the presence of generic E. coli, which is an indicator of fecal contamination.

The FSMA Produce Safety Rule requires that labs use approved testing methods to run these tests, to ensure results are accurate. The water labs listed conduct these allowable testing methods.

For more information on specific water testing requirements under the Produce Safety Rule, see resources at the end of this page or attend a FSMA Grower Training workshop.

This list does not endorse any specific business or testing method. There may be other companies that offer the allowable methods for water testing in the state.

When looking for water testing services:

  • Call the lab to ask about their protocol for gathering a sample.
    • Tell them you want to test your ground or surface water samples for generic E. coli using a method allowed by the FDA under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
    • Make sure to tell the lab whether the sample is from a surface or well water source, as the testing methods might change based on the source.
  • Water used in the pack house or for other postharvest uses can be reported as presence/absence (P/A) results. But water used in the field (production) must be analyzed by a quantitative method that results in a number.
    • Tell the lab you need an actual number for your irrigation water sample results.
    • The list of water labs on this page shows if a lab can perform both quantitative and presence/absence, or just presence/absence tests.
  • You will receive a sampling kit and instructions from the lab. Follow these instructions carefully: wash your hands before sampling and do not touch the inside of the container.
  • Set a time when the sample should arrive at the lab.
    • Some labs have small incubator capacity and cannot process every sample they receive. Sometimes they do not run samples every day.
    • It is best to call ahead and make sure the lab has the time and capacity to process the sample within the allotted hold time.
  • Some labs can arrange to pick up a sample from a farmer or a drop-off location, but you will need to know the exact day and time you will be sampling.
  • Get the sample to the lab as soon as you can after collection, always within the hold time indicated by the lab.
    • Some labs accept mailed samples, while some require drop-offs.
    • Keep the sample at refrigerator temperatures.

Allowable testing methods for FSMA Produce Safety Rule

The FDA has determined that the following methods are scientifically valid and at least equivalent to the method of analysis stated in the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (FDA regulation § 112.151(a)), in accuracy, precision and sensitivity.

These are the allowable methods of testing agricultural water for farms covered by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.


Authors: Annalisa Hultberg, Extension educator; Nusrat Annie Jahan, College of Veterinary Medicine and Fernando Sampedro, School of Public Health

Reviewed in 2021

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