GBRU: reference and diagnostic services

GBRU is the national reference laboratory for gastrointestinal pathogens and provides specialist testing of clinical, food, water and environmental samples.

Gastrointestinal bacteria reference unit (GBRU) is part of Public Health England’s (PHE’s) bacteria reference department (BRD).

GBRU is made up of 3 sections:

  • foodborne pathogens reference services
  • gastrointestinal infections reference service
  • salmonella reference services

GBRU services

GBRU provides national reference facilities for many gastrointestinal associated bacteria, including:

  • bacillus spp
  • Clostridium botulism
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Clostridium tetani
  • listeria
  • staphylococcal enterotoxin detection
  • campylobacter
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Escherichia coli
  • Shigella, Vibrio & Yersinia species
  • Salmonella

GBRU also offers serodiagnostic testing for:

  • Escherichia coli O157

GBRU also undertakes research into the genetic diversity of pathogens and the development of improved detection and characterisation techniques for food, water and environmentally borne diseases and is also able to offer expert advice, education and training on public health aspects of food microbiology and safety.

For more information on GBRU services and contact details refer to the BRD user manual.

Guidance and forms

BRD manual

Gastrointestinal bacteria culture request form: L4

Gastrointestinal bacteria clinical request form: L5

Gastrointestinal bacteria food and environmental sample form: L7

Gastrointestinal pathogens: specimen acceptance criteria

Gastrointestinal pathogens: interpreting PCR assays guidance

Implementing pathogen genomics: a case study



Public Health England
61 Colindale Avenue

Published 1 July 2014
Last updated 3 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Implementing pathogen genomics: a case study'.
  2. First published.