The Dartmouth Laboratory

The Dartmouth Laboratory is on the traditional unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq People.

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.

Dartmouth Laboratory building entrance

The Dartmouth Laboratory is the CFIA's expert laboratory for the testing of fish and seafood for a wide variety of substances, including marine toxins, veterinary drug residues and toxic metals, and for detecting fish fraud through DNA barcoding. Research activities focus on the development and validation of regulatory food testing methods, and providing scientific data to support national programs, policies and priorities.

What we do


  • Testing to support:
    • monitoring programs
    • surveys
    • food investigations and consumer complaints
  • Validation of methods for different substances in a variety of food commodities.
  • Provide scientific advice to support food safety programs, inspection staff, regulated parties and other government departments.
  • Accredited for developing and validating test methods and conducting non-routine testing.


  • Develop, optimize and validate methods needed for use in the regulatory testing.
  • Test for toxic elements, heavy metals in various foods, marine toxins in shellfish, and veterinary drug residues in fish and seafood products.
  • Participate in collaborative research with other government departments and academia in support of the CFIA's mandate – to safeguard Canada's food, animals and plants


  • Regulatory testing and provide expertise in the validation of methods for the bacteriological analyses of foods and environmental samples, including E.coli O157:H7, verotoxigenic E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella species and Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
  • Provides whole genome sequencing analysis of food bacterial isolates
  • Provides DNA barcode testing for the identification of fin fish to support the CFIA's efforts to combat mislabelling and food fraud.
  • Research focused on the development of more efficient, sensitive and/or faster regulatory testing methods.
  • An established research program using microbiology to focus on improving the detection and isolation of foodborne bacterial pathogens through:
    • genomics and bioinformatics
    • physiological characterization
    • metabolism and molecular detection

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

Dartmouth Laboratory
1992 Agency Drive
Dartmouth, NS
B3B 1Y9

More information

Learn about other CFIA laboratories.