Image of Willis Fedio and Students
Willis Fedio and students

About Us

The New Mexico State University Food Safety Laboratory (NMSU FSL) is a Biosafety Level 2 food microbiology laboratory that employs five analysts and two students. Our primary work involves the development and evaluation of rapid methods for the detection of pathogenic microorganisms in foods.

Dr Willis Fedio is the Director of the FSL and has over 30 years of food pathogen detection experience using a wide range of techniques including cultural procedures, PCR, real time PCR, and a variety of immunoassays. Since 2001, we have had an Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide method assessment, development and validation data for commodities identified in national food safety and food defense programs. NMSU FSL staff are required to undergo rigorous training on FDA methods and demonstrate proficiency in the procedures both by practical and written evaluations. The scope of the experimental work in the FSL ranges from validation of commercially available test kits, to the development and fine tuning of procedures for specific foods. The NMSU FSL's evaluation includes the assessment of rapid test methods for a particular analyte(s) or food commodity to be measured against the FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM). This comparison is necessary prior to the FDA adopting a rapid test method for field use.

Image of the Food Safety Laboratory

The work of the Food Safety Laboratory helps the FDA perform its mission by enhancing the Agency's ability to be responsive in the food safety and food defense arenas by providing rapid method assessment, development and validation data. These improved methodologies allow the FDA to more effectively conduct surveillance and regulatory enforcement and facilitates the early detection of potentially deadly organisms in the food supply.

Since 2009, we became a Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) Microbiology Laboratory and four years got FDA funding to become a FERN Microbiology Agreement Program Laboratory. The FERN MCAP program enabled us to acquire additional laboratory equipment and expertise. We have participated in many FERN trainings, FERN Proficiency Tests, Multi-Lab Validation Studies, Surveillance Studies and other assignments. We recently received another FERN MCAP grant for an additional three years.

The NMSU FSL works with local food processors on the microbiological evaluation of a wide range of products. We have conducted numerous studies on the microflora of raw, fermented and dried chile peppers and examined the survival and growth of pathogenic bacteria in a wide range of food products.

We conduct procedures for detection of microorganisms including Escherichia coli O157:H7; non-O157 Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli; Salmonella spp.; Listeria monocytogenes; Vibrio spp.; Shigella spp.; Staphylococcus aureus; Escherichia coli, coliforms, aerobic plate count and yeasts and molds. We use FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual and USDA FSIS Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook procedures for detection and isolation of foodborne microorganisms.

The NMSU FSL staff also works with processors on HACCP plan and Listeria Control Program development as well as product development and process evaluations.

Who Are We?

Lab Director
Image of Willis Fedio
Dr. Willis Fedio
Lead Microbiologist
Image of Ruben Zapata
Ruben Zapata
Image of Lyssa White
Lyssa White

Dr. Willis Fedio
Mail To:
P.O. Box 30003 MSC 3BF
Las Cruces NM 88003-8003
Ship To:
NMSU Food Safety Laboratory
2990 Knox St.
Las Cruces NM 88003-1268
Phone: 575-646-7352
Fax: 575-646-7344