The State Laboratory was established in 1924 to provide an analytical and advisory service to the newly formed Irish Government. It resulted from an amalgamation of the laboratory of the Revenue Commissioners, then located in the Custom House, with the chemistry laboratory of the Department of Agriculture which was housed in Government Buildings in Merrion Street.
The State Laboratory remained in Merrion Street for almost 60 years and during that period its functions expanded from its origins in revenue and agriculture to embrace most aspects of Government legislative activity which required the application of analytical expertise. This expansion is reflected in the increase in staff numbers from 20 in the early years to approximately 100 at present.
By the mid 1970's the premises had become inadequate for the demands imposed by EEC membership in terms of range of analytes and the sophistication of techniques employed. Expansion within Government Buildings was not possible and in any case the design was no longer suitable to the needs of a modern laboratory. Consequently it was decided that a new purpose built laboratory was necessary. A site was provided on Government land at Abbotstown, Co. Dublin and a new facility was opened in 1984.
In early 2000 it was once again felt that the laboratory was not suitable in size or design for the level of activity undertaken and a move to a new site, again on a Department of Agriculture estate, was planned. A new building was constructed on the Backweston Campus near Celbridge and the laboratory moved to the new premises in April/May 2005.
The State Laboratory's main clients include the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM); the Office of the Revenue Commissioners; the Coroners; and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
The main areas of activity supported by the work of the Laboratory are:
Agriculture and Food with an emphasis on food safety and quality
As Ireland is a major food exporter, monitoring and controlling the production of food and animal feed is a high priority. The State Laboratory assists DAFM in ensuring the quality and safety of Irish food and food products by monitoring compliance with European and national legislation governing the production, distribution and sale of animal feedingstuffs and by testing a wide range of foods for veterinary residues and other contaminants.
The State Laboratory advises the Office of the Revenue Commissioners on the classification of goods and on the application of appropriate excise duties on hydrocarbon oil products and alcoholic beverages and provides an analytical and advisory service in relation to mineral oils, alcoholic beverages and non-potable alcohol-containing products.
The State Laboratory provides a forensic toxicology service to assist Coroners and the State Pathologist to investigate the causes of sudden death by analysing post mortem samples to confirm the presence or absence of ethanol, legal and illegal drugs and other toxic substances. The levels of substances detected are also quantified.
The use of the internet to purchase unlicensed medicines continues to be a cause for concern for the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). In general, with medicines purchased online there is no guarantee that the products are genuine. They may not contain the correct active ingredient or may even contain dangerous or toxic substances.
Monday - Friday: 9am-5pm
Backweston Laboratory Campus
+353 (0)1 505 7000
+353 (0)1 505 7070