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The Burnaby Laboratory

The Burnaby Laboratory is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

About the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is a science-based regulator with a mandate to safeguard the food supply, protect the health of plants and animals, and support market access. The Agency relies on high-quality, timely and relevant science as the basis of its program design and regulatory decision-making. Scientific activities inform the Agency's understanding of risks, provide evidence for developing mitigation measures, and confirm the effectiveness of these measures.

CFIA scientific activities include laboratory testing, research, surveillance, test method development, risk assessments and expert scientific advice. Agency scientists maintain strong partnerships with universities, industry, and federal, provincial and international counterparts to effectively carry out the CFIA's mandate.

Photograph - Burnaby Laboratory building entrance

Located on Canada's west coast, the Burnaby Laboratory is ideally located near Canada's largest port. As such, its food safety testing activities are greatly influenced by the import and export of food products. While the laboratory provides testing services for all food commodities, testing support for British Columbia's renowned shellfish commodity is a specialisation of the Burnaby Laboratory. In addition to regulatory testing activities, the Burnaby Laboratory conducts applied research through the development, validation and verification of new analytical methods. Through Innovative Solutions Canada programs, the Burnaby Laboratory leads the development of new technologies to serve communities and industry reliant on marine foods.

What we do

Diagnostic testing

  • Post-import and pre-export testing of food products.
  • Survey foods to identify specific additives, contaminants or toxins.
  • Annual food safety monitoring programs.
  • Foodborne illness outbreak investigations.
  • Consumer complaint investigations.
  • Environmental monitoring of shellfish harvest areas.

Support services

  • Applied research that looks at emerging issues in food safety, and the development of fast and sensitive diagnostic test methods.
  • Collaborations with academia supporting the shellfish sector
  • Partnership with BC School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; creating a science career path for youth
  • Provide advice to operational inspection staff at the CFIA, regulated parties and other stakeholders.

Microbiology

  • With over 35 testing methods for microbiology as well as Test Method Development and Non-Routine Testing methods on scope the laboratory provides regulatory testing of food and environmental samples for a vast array of pathogens. The Burnaby Laboratory is a key shellfish testing laboratory for Vibrio, a marine pathogen that can cause severe illness.

Virology

  • Working in partnership with the CFIA's National Reference Centre for Food Virology, the Burnaby Laboratory offers testing for foodborne viral pathogens, such as hepatitis A and Norovirus. Unique animal models support shellfish pathogen research for Government, academia and industry.

Chemistry

  • With over 30 chemistry testing methods, as well as Test Method Development and Non-Routine Testing methods on scope, the laboratory provides regulatory testing of food and environmental samples in the areas of natural toxins (mycotoxins and marine toxins), allergens and histamines.
  • The scientists at the Burnaby Laboratory have over 30 years' experience in testing foods for sulphites and histamines. It is the only CFIA expert lab for these analyses.

Scientific techniques

Ultra-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC MS/MS)

  • This widely used analytical technique can determine compounds such as marine toxins, mycotoxins, additives and contaminants with high molecular specificity at trace levels.

High performance liquid chromatography with post column oxidation (HPLC PCOX)

  • Using liquid chromatography (to separate a material for molecular analysis), toxins are separated then undergo a secondary reaction which enhances detection by fluorescence.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

  • ELISA determines the presence of a particular substance (e.g. food allergens, toxins, or pathogens) using antibodies that bind to specific target protein(s). A subsequent reaction producing a detectable signal such as colour change shows the presence of the target substance. The strength of the signal gives an indication of the amount present in the sample.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay

  • PCR assays detect pathogens in food samples by targeting nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) that is specific to the pathogen of interest.

Whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis

  • This technology creates capacity for detailed characterization of isolated food pathogens for research and outbreak investigations.

Quality management

All CFIA laboratories are accredited in accordance with the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) provides accreditation for routine testing, test method development and non-routine testing, as identified on the laboratory's Scope of Accreditation on the SCC website. Accreditation formally verifies the CFIA's competence to produce accurate and reliable results. The results are supported by the development, validation and implementation of scientific methods, conducted by highly qualified personnel, using reliable products, services, and equipment, in a quality controlled environment. Participation in international proficiency testing programs further demonstrates that our testing is comparable to laboratories across Canada and around the world.

Physical address

Burnaby Laboratory
3155 Willingdon Green
Burnaby, BC
V5G 4P2

More information

Learn about other CFIA laboratories.