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Proficiency testing for food, water and environmental microbiology

Public Health England provides proficiency testing (PT) schemes, also known as external quality assessment (EQA) schemes.

Public Health England (PHE) recognises the importance of the role of food, water and environmental microbiology laboratories and provides a range of PT schemes.

PT allows the introduction of samples of known but undisclosed content into a laboratory’s routine testing procedure.

Proficiency testing documents

Online data entry and reports

Online reporting system for Public Health England’s food and water microbiology proficiency testing schemes.

Log in to the online data reporting system.

Bottled and mineral water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that routinely examine bottled and mineral waters for indicator organisms.

Dialysis water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that monitor the microbial quality of water used to prepare dialysis fluid.

Drinking water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that routinely examine drinking water.

Endoscope rinse water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that routinely examine endoscope rinse waters for total viable counts.

Environmental swab scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine swabs for hygiene indicator organisms or pathogens.

European food microbiology legislation scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine foods for compliance with Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 as amended. The scheme assesses participants’ ability to test and interpret laboratory results in accordance with EU food safety and process hygiene criteria. .

Hospital tap water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine hospital tap waters for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Legionella isolation scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine waters for Legionella spp.

Legionella molecular scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine waters for Legionella spp. detection and quantification by molecular methods.

Non-pathogen scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that enumerate indicator and spoilage micro-organisms from food samples.

Norovirus and hepatitis A virus scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine food products or waters for hepatitis A virus and norovirus using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR).

Pathogenic vibrio scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories examining food or water samples for Vibrio spp.

Recreational and surface water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that routinely monitor water, in rivers, lakes, streams and bathing beaches and pools, for indicator organisms.

Shellfish scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories testing raw live bivalve molluscs from harvesting beds for classification or end product testing.

Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that examine for Shiga toxin Escherichia coli (STEC). This scheme contains non-viable microorganisms (killed bacteria) and is only suitable for examination by molecular methods.

Standard scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that routinely test for a range of food-borne pathogens and indicator organisms.

Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories that test food for Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) using a range of kits. Participants culture the Staphylococcus aureus from the sample vials then test for enterotoxin production.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 1 August 2017 + full page history
  1. Added new 'Norovirus and hepatitis A virus scheme' subheading and related documents.
  2. Added legionella molecular scheme.
  3. Added food and water proficiency testing schemes: scheme accreditation.
  4. Added shiga toxin escherichia coli scheme: sample schedule.
  5. Added Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme: recent reports.
  6. Added Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme.
  7. Added environmental swab scheme: recent reports.
  8. Added environmental swab scheme.
  9. PHE withdrew the public health PT scheme in April 2015.
  10. Added proficiency testing schemes: international distributors and collaborators.
  11. Added link to online data entry system and drinking water scheme instruction sheet.
  12. First published.