Donal Sammin has been assigned responsibility as Director of Laboratories (at Assistant Secretary level) for:
operational and strategic management of DAFM laboratories
provision and procurement of laboratory services required by DAFM
working with others to enhance national capability in regulatory science to safeguard the food chain
He is assisted by the Director of Food Safety & Plant Science Labs, Jack Choiseul.
About DAFM Laboratories
The department’s Laboratories are an essential component of the department’s One Health business area and play a significant part in safeguarding the food-chain. The Laboratories are located at purpose built facilities on the Backweston campus in Co. Kildare and at seven other regional locations across Ireland. The work of the Laboratory Service is summarised in its Vision Statement:
Sármhaitheas Eolaíochta –Sláinte Phoiblí, Ainmhithe agus Plandaí agus Ár gComhshaol a Chosaint agus a Fheabhsú
Scientific Excellence – Safeguarding and Enhancing Public, Animal and Plant Health and Our Environment
There are seven laboratory Divisions, each of which is designated as National Reference Laboratory for one or more specific diseases or parameters under EU Legislation.
Animal Health Laboratories
Bacteriology and Parasitology Division - Head of Division - Máire McElroy
Bacteria and parasites of farmed animals can cause illness in animals, and sometimes also in people, which can have a negative impact on farmer profit and on the environment as it increases the carbon footprint of livestock.
The primary function of the Bacteriology and Parasitology Division is to provide veterinary and scientific expertise and laboratory testing support in relation to bacteria and parasites of farmed animals with a particular emphasis on national eradication and control programmes for certain diseases, for example, bovine tuberculosis and to show national freedom from other diseases that also affect humans.
Pathology Division - Head of Division - John Moriarty
Pathology Division provides veterinary and analytical expertise for the implementation of a number of EU regulations, for surveillance purposes and for disease investigation in farmed animals. The division has three main areas of work - anatomic pathology, biochemistry and clinical microbiology.
Regional Veterinary Laboratory Division - Head of Division - Micheál Casey
This Division comprises five Regional Veterinary Laboratories whose primary work is in disease diagnosis and surveillance. They are located at Athlone, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo.
Virology Division - Head of Division - Ronan Gabriel O'Neill
There are many viruses that can affect Ireland’s farmed animals. The Virology Division works tests blood and other samples collected from farmed animals to check if they are infected with a virus or have been infected with that virus in the past. This work ensures that Ireland can remain free of some important animal diseases and that Ireland can export livestock and animal products to other countries.
Food Safety and Plant Science Laboratories
Food Chemistry Division- Head of Division -Jim Garvey
The Food Chemistry Division provides analytical support and scientific advice and expertise to a number of DAFM divisions for the implementation of EU legislation. This analytical service is provided in support of the contract between DAFM and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for the monitoring of food on the Irish market and for export as well as the quality control of plant protection and biocidal products.
Food Microbiology Division - Head of Division - Montserrat Gutierrez
The Food Microbiology laboratory examines foods such as meats, dairy and vegetables to ensure they are free from microbes that cause food poisoning. The work of the Division is very important in ensuring Ireland’s very high standards of food safety.
Plant Science Division - Head of Division - Anne Marie Dillon
Plant Science Division consists of three broad areas of expertise.
The Seed Testing Laboratory provides seed testing for DAFM schemes (for example, Seed certification) and to others such as seed merchants, farmers, growers and forest nurseries.
The Plant Health Laboratory provides expertise and laboratory analysis for regulated pests and diseases of plants to prevent their entry and/or establishment and help with their eradication and/or control.
The Feedingstuffs Laboratory analyses animal feedingstuffs to ensure that they are not contaminated with prohibited materials and therefore that animal feed is safe.
In addition to the seven Divisions, the Laboratories also include:
a multi-purpose laboratory, based on the Model Farm Road in Cork city, which provides a range of analytical services in support of DAFM controls on food safety, animal health and plant health
a research farm facility, at Longtown near Clane, Co. Kildare, comprising bio-secure animal holding facilities required to support many of the animal health schemes operated by DAFM