World Food Safety Day 2023

07 June 2023

You may not know it, but SA Pathology has a Food and Environmental Laboratory that tests food, skincare, and other products to ensure they’re safe to use.

To mark World Food Safety Day, Acting Lab Manager Robert Cox has answered the top questions he gets asked about the SA Pathology Food Lab, the importance of food safety and why food standards save lives.

What do you do in the food safety lab?

The primary role of the Food and Environmental Laboratory is to provide a public health service - we constantly monitor and test a variety of samples for the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB), Food Safety and Regulation Branch and the Department for Environment and Water, as well as performing food, water and environmental tests for public and private hospitals around the state.

The Food Lab also provides testing services to commercial businesses to ensure their product is safe and complies with the Food Standards Code.

What types of products do you test?

The Food Lab tests a range of samples, from water, food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, to surface hygiene and environmental air monitoring.

What’s the testing process when food arrives in the lab?

The testing of samples sent to the Food Lab is a very manual process. 

  • First, the samples are reviewed by the laboratory to ensure they were supplied in a way that allows them to be tested, and that the amount provided is enough to perform all tests requested.
  • Staff then test samples for the requested bacteria via NATA-approved methods.
  • After incubation, the results are recorded on our Laboratory Information System and once all tests are recorded; a senior staff member will validate the results and issue a report to the client.
  • Results can take between 24 hours and 28 days to report, depending on the tests requested.

How does SA Pathology ensure the Australian food safety standards are adhered to?

The SA Pathology Food and Environmental Laboratory is a NATA and TGA accredited laboratory, so we follow strict methods to ensure the correct results are given to the client. We also work closely with government agencies and regulatory bodies to help our clients follow these standards to maintain public safety.

Why is it important that SA Pathology conducts this testing?

As a public health service, our testing ensures all South Aussies can enjoy their food and water safely.

We ensure products manufactured here are safe for consumption and use, and that confidence enables everyone to enjoy the wonderful produce South Australia has to offer.

What do you find most rewarding about working in the lab?

Assisting clients to ensure their food is produced safely for the South Australian community, and the team environment here in the Food lab enables us to provide the best experience for our clients.

Learn more about SA Pathology’s food and environmental services.

General News


Syphilis: The Great Imitator

While cases of syphilis (Treponema pallidum) are on the rise...


Genomic partnership delivering life - changing insights

In 2016, genomic sequencing was gaining traction across the ...


Lead poisoning - know the symptoms

In the early 1990’s Australia banned the use of lead in item...


Laboratory to Bedside: Why Pathology, Research and Clinical Care Need a Connected Journey

Jill’s perspective on collaborative research and clinical pr...


Declan’s commitment to advancing clinical biochemistry practice

We would like to give a massive congratulations to Declan Ne...