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

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

  1. Bottled and mineral water scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

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

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

    • Guidance

Dialysis water scheme

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

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Dialysis water scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Dialysis water scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Dialysis water scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Drinking water scheme

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

  1. Drinking water scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Drinking water scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Drinking water scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Drinking water scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Endoscope rinse water scheme

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

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Endoscope rinse water scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Endoscope rinse water scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Endoscope rinse water scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Environmental swab scheme

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

  1. Environmental swab scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  3. Environmental swab scheme: sample instruction sheet

    • Guidance
  4. Environmental swab scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  5. Environmental swab scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • Guidance
  6. Environmental swab scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance

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. .

  1. European food microbiology legislation scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

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

    • Guidance

Hospital tap water scheme

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

  1. Hospital water schemes: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Hospital tap water scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Hospital tap water scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Hospital tap water scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Legionella isolation scheme

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

Selected distribution challenges the detection and quantification of Legionella spp. by molecular methods.

  1. Legionella scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Legionella isolation scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Legionella scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Legionella scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Non pathogen scheme

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

  1. Non-pathogen scheme: sample schedule

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Non-pathogen scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Non-pathogen scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Non-pathogen scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

Pathogenic vibrio scheme

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

  1. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: sample schedule

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Pathogenic vibrio scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance

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.

  1. Recreational and surface water scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

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

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

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

    • Guidance

Shellfish scheme

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

  1. Shellfish scheme: sample schedule

    • Guidance
  2. Safety data sheet for lenticules

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

    • Guidance
  4. Shellfish scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Shellfish scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Shellfish scheme: trend analysis

    • Guidance

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.

  1. Safety data sheet for lenticules

    • Guidance
  2. Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme: sample instruction sheet

    • Guidance
  3. Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme: current distribution

    • Guidance
  4. Shiga toxin Escherichia coli scheme: recent intended results for distribution

    • Guidance

Standard scheme

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

  1. Standard scheme: sample schedule

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

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

    • Guidance
  4. Standard scheme: current distribution

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

    • Guidance
  6. Standard scheme: recent reports

    • Guidance
  7. Standard scheme: recent trend analysis

    • Guidance

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Guidance