UK national reference laboratory for food microbiology

Guidance and responsibilities of the UK's national reference laboratory (NRL) for food microbiology.

The UK’s national reference laboratory (NRL) for food microbiology is responsible for official controls on specific areas of food microbiology:

  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • coagulase positive staphylococci
  • Escherichia coli (including STEC)
  • campylobacter
  • salmonella
  • antimicrobial resistance

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) awarded PHE these responsibilities for performing official controls to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, as described in Article 33 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

Expert witness information

Local authorities and port health authorities ask staff in official control laboratories (OCLs) to provide witness of fact statements, advice to prepare material for prosecutions, and requests for suitable expert witnesses. The UK NRL can provide advice and practical support.


National reference laboratory

Food, water and microbiology
PHE Colindale
61 Colindale Avenue


Standard methods

Procedures for laboratory examination of all food types, dairy products and environmental samples.

Public health management

Reports and audits

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 10 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added Determination of pH in food and water samples.

  2. Added 'Determination of water activity in food' document.

  3. Added 2016 to 2017 report to 'National reference laboratory for food microbiology: annual report'.

  4. First published.