Health protection – collection

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.

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.

  1. Online reporting for the food and water microbiology proficiency testing (PT) schemes: instruction sheet

    • 26 January 2015
    • Guidance

Bottled and mineral water scheme

Laboratories that routinely monitor bottled and mineral waters for indicator organisms.

  1. Bottled and mineral water scheme: sample schedule

    • 25 March 2015
    • Guidance
  2. Bottled and mineral water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Bottled and mineral water scheme: current distribution

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Bottled and mineral water scheme: recent reports

    • 20 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Bottled and mineral water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Bottled and mineral water scheme: trend analysis

    • 2 June 2014
    • Guidance

Dialysis water scheme

This scheme is suitable for laboratories in the water testing and clinical microbiology sectors that monitor the microbial quality of water used to prepare dialysis fluid.

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Dialysis water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 7 January 2015
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Dialysis water scheme: current distribution

    • 20 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Dialysis water scheme: recent reports

    • 28 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Dialysis water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Dialysis water scheme: trend analysis

    • 10 November 2014
    • Guidance

Drinking water scheme

Laboratories that routinely monitor drinking water, examining for low levels of indicator organisms.

  1. Drinking water scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Drinking water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Drinking water scheme: current distribution

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Drinking water scheme: recent reports

    • 30 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Drinking water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Drinking water scheme: trend analysis

    • 25 November 2014
    • Guidance

Endoscope rinse water scheme

Laboratories that routinely monitor endoscope rinse waters, by determining the colony count at 28°C to 32°C for up to 5 days.

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Endoscope rinse water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Endoscope rinse water scheme: current distribution

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Endoscope rinse water scheme: recent reports

    • 6 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Endoscope rinse water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Endoscope rinse water scheme: trend analysis

    • 31 July 2014
    • Guidance

European food microbiology legislation scheme

Laboratories that examine foods for compliance with Regulation (EC) 2073/2005, amended by (EC)1441/2007.

The scheme assesses participants’ ability to test and interpret laboratory results in accordance with EU food safety and process hygiene criteria.

  1. European food microbiology legislation scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. European food microbiology legislation scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 12 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. European food microbiology legislation scheme: current distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. European food microbiology legislation scheme: recent reports

    • 13 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. European food microbiology legislation scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 30 March 2015
    • Guidance

Hospital tap water scheme

Hospitals must test to ensure that water used in their healthcare facilities is safe to minimise the potential risk of infection in the hospital environment.

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Hospital tap water scheme: high quality microbiological testing

    • 1 May 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Hospital tap water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  4. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Hospital tap water scheme: current distribution

    • 20 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Hospital tap water scheme: recent reports

    • 20 November 2014
    • Guidance
  7. Hospital tap water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance

Legionella isolation scheme

Laboratories that examine waters for Legionella spp. The scheme includes samples containing a range of different serogroups of Legionella pneumophila, and Legionella spp. other than L.pneumophila.

  1. Legionella scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Legionella scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 12 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Legionella isolation scheme: current distribution

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Legionella scheme: recent reports

    • 13 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Legionella scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 22 April 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Legionella scheme: trend analysis

    • 1 July 2014
    • Guidance

Non pathogen scheme

Laboratories on production sites that do not want to introduce pathogens.

Participants are mainly laboratories that enumerate indicator and spoilage micro-organisms.

  1. Non-pathogen scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Non-pathogen scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 7 January 2015
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet: freeze-dried food

    • 30 January 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Non-pathogen scheme: current distribution

    • 20 January 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Non-pathogen scheme: recent reports

    • 6 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Non-pathogen scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 24 February 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Non-pathogen scheme: trend analysis

    • 12 November 2014
    • Guidance

Pathogenic vibrio scheme

This scheme is suited for laboratories examining food samples for Vibrio spp. The examinations covered are for presence or absence and enumerations of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio vulnificus.

  1. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 12 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet: freeze-dried food

    • 30 January 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: current distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: recent reports

    • 13 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance

Public health scheme

Laboratories that are involved in public health investigations, such as official food control laboratories. Participants are often public health laboratories. Simulated food and swab samples are provided.

  1. Public health scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Public health scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 12 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Public health scheme: current distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Public health scheme: recent reports

    • 28 April 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Public health scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance

Recreational and surface water scheme

Laboratories that routinely monitor bathing beach, bathing pool and river, lake and stream waters for indicator organisms.

  1. Recreational and surface water scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Recreational and surface water scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Recreational and surface water scheme: current distribution

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Recreational and surface water scheme: recent reports

    • 1 May 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Recreational and surface water scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance

Shellfish scheme

Laboratories testing raw live bivalve molluscs from harvesting beds for classification or end product testing. Participants include all EU National Reference Laboratories responsible for testing live bivalve molluscs.

  1. Shellfish scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Shellfish scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 7 January 2015
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 16 April 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Shellfish scheme: current distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Shellfish scheme: recent reports

    • 19 December 2014
    • Guidance
  6. Shellfish scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 10 December 2014
    • Guidance
  7. Shellfish scheme: trend analysis

    • 5 January 2015
    • Guidance

Standard scheme

Laboratories that routinely test for a range of food-borne pathogens and indicator organisms.

Participants are often private laboratories that test foods for clients in the food industry who may submit products routinely for microbial assessment, end product testing and customer complaints.

  1. Standard scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Standard scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 6 January 2015
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet: freeze-dried food

    • 30 January 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Standard scheme: current distribution

    • 4 March 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Standard scheme: recent reports

    • 20 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Standard scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 15 April 2015
    • Guidance
  7. Standard scheme: trend analysis

    • 5 January 2015
    • Guidance

Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme

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.

  1. Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme: sample schedule

    • 17 January 2014
    • Guidance
  2. Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme: sample instruction sheets and video

    • 2 February 2015
    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet: freeze-dried food

    • 30 January 2015
    • Guidance
  4. Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme: current distribution

    • 14 January 2015
    • Guidance
  5. Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme: recent reports

    • 24 February 2015
    • Guidance
  6. Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin (SET) detection scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • 17 February 2015
    • Guidance