Food Testing

food beaker testingFood analysis is an important part of the testing that we do for public safety and healthy living.  CARO vaulted on the national stage last year after winning a national contract with the division of Chemical Residue Testing of Food Products by Public Works and Government Services Canada and is now the #1 Laboratory in Canada Testing fruits, vegetables and honey for chemical residues. This expansion into the food testing sector marks an exciting new chapter for CARO, both through divisional expansion and national exposure.  Much like our current testing of soil, water, air and tissue, we test food products for pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, microbiological parameters, metals, as well as, other less common analyses.

Initial Screening

Health Authorities have developed some basic food safety guidelines that classify health risks associated with certain types of food products. Initial screening would determine the risk category (High or Low) your food product falls into based on the results of the following tests:

  • Hydrogen ion concentration (pH)
  • Water Activity (Aw)

Lower Risk Food – food in a form or state that is not capable of supporting the growth of disease causing microorganisms or the production of toxins. Lower risk foods typically will have one or both of the following

  • Water Activity (Aw) ≤ (greater than or equal to) 0.85 – low moisture content
  • pH ≤ (greater than or equal to) 4.6 – acidic environment

Higher Risk Food – food in a form or state which is capable of supporting growth of disease causing microorganisms or the production of toxins. Generally this includes food products that have both > (greater than) 0.85 Aw for water activity moisture content and > (greater than) 4.6 pH.

Biological Indicators

Based on the initial screening, there are a number of biological indicators that CARO can test for associated with high risk food products as well as inadequate processing, contamination, poor sanitation, and poor food handling processes that may result in preventable food poisoning incidents.

  • Total Coliforms – Exist naturally in soil, water, and vegetation. Total Coliforms are generally harmless but there presence indicates inadequate processing or contamination
  • Fecal Coliforms – Typically found in the feces of humans and animals but may also be found naturally in the environment. Their presence may indicate fecal contamination.
  • Escherichia coliE.coli are members of the fecal coliform group and their presence is an indicator of direct fecal contamination.
  • Salmonella – commonly found in the intestines of animals and birds. Salmonella presence is also an indicator of direct fecal contamination.
  • Total Aerobic Bacteria – Total aerobic bacteria represents the total number of bacteria able to grow in an oxygenated environment. Their presence is typically used to monitor quality and to look for significant changes in quality, sanitation, processing, and food handling.
  • Yeast and Mold – often lead to spoilage of food products, including low risk foods.

In addition to food product testing, ensure proper sanitation of production areas through microbiological environmental surface testing as part of your routine cleaning and safety checks, which we can also do for you with our largest private microbiological laboratory in Western Canada.

shutterstock_154601009 Food Header


CARO has made great strides in developing analytical testing services in contaminated sites and emergent pollutants and see food analysis as a natural extension of our developments; completing the food chain of analysis from the environment to our mouths.  Please see our scope of accreditation here: 

Please feel free to contact us here to obtain further information, request supplies, or to speak to a customer service representative about your specific testing needs.

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