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

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

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

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  4. Dialysis water scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Dialysis water scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Dialysis water scheme: trend analysis

    • Guidance

Drinking water scheme

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

  1. Drinking water scheme: sample schedule

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  4. Drinking water scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Drinking water scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Drinking water scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  4. Endoscope rinse water scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Endoscope rinse water scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Endoscope rinse water scheme: trend analysis

    • Guidance

Environmental swab scheme

  1. Environmental swab scheme: sample instruction sheet

    • Guidance
  2. Environmental swab scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Hospital tap water scheme: sample instruction sheet and video

    • Guidance
  4. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  5. Hospital tap water scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  6. Hospital tap water scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  8. Hospital tap water scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  4. Legionella isolation scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Legionella scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Legionella scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Non-pathogen scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Non-pathogen scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Non-pathogen scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: recent reports

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

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

    • 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

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

    • Guidance
  3. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  4. Shellfish scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Shellfish scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Shellfish scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Standard scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Standard scheme: recent reports

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

    • Guidance
  7. Standard scheme: trend analysis

    • 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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Guidance