The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Laboratory

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Laboratory is located on the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Toronto is also covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands.

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.

Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Laboratory building entrance

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Laboratory analyzes food, food products and other related samples for detection of microorganisms related to food safety and public health.

Additionally, the laboratory performs analysis of canned products for container integrity and commercial sterility and analysis of food products for extraneous materials such as glass, filth and unknown matter.

What we do

Services and activities

  • Analysis of canned products for container integrity and commercial sterility.
  • Analysis of food products for extraneous materials such as glass, metal, filth, and unknown matter.
  • Diagnostic testing to provide support for annual food safety monitoring programs.
  • Foodborne illness outbreak investigations.
  • Consumer complaint investigations, container integrity, extraneous matter, and unknown material identification.
  • Applied research for food safety issues.
  • Develop diagnostic methods.
  • Consult and advise operational and inspection staff at the CFIA and regulated parties.

Areas of research

Food microbiology

  • The food microbiology laboratory operates seven days a week to ensure prompt sample analysis. The laboratory is designed to provide rapid responses to food safety investigations. Innovative technology is used to detect, enumerate, and characterizefood-borne pathogens including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Shigella. Additionally, whole genome sequencing is fully integrated into diagnostic testing to perform detailed characterization and analysis of bacterial isolates.

Molecular biology

  • Molecular biology methods are used for food microbiology investigations. The molecular biology area carries out research and method development, whole genome sequencing of bacterial strains, and bioinformatics analysis.

Extraneous matter

  • The extraneous matter laboratory provides diagnostic testing related to consumer complaints and investigations. Testing includes detecting heavy and light filth elements (e.g. insect fragments, rodent hairs, sand) as well as injurious materials such as glass, metal and plastic.
  • The laboratory uses several spectroscopy approaches including the following; Fourier-transform infrared, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, and Raman, all of which can be used alongside traditional microscopy techniques for unknown material identification and potential food fraud applications.

Container integrity

  • Container integrity scientists test thermally processed foods and other types of pre-packaged foods for shelf-stability and food safety. This includes traditional metal cans as well as plastic-based flexible packaging. The unit also performs safety parameter testing that includes pH, water activity (aw) and water phase salt.

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

Greater Toronto Area Laboratory
2301 Midland Avenue
Scarborough, ON
M1P 4R7

More information

Learn about other CFIA laboratories.