Lab Results

Microbiology Food Testing - Interpreting Laboratory Results


"Food testing is a significant overhead to any food business. Getting the most out of your data is our specialty. We can supply trending, oos trending or chart any other parameter in a ready - to - present format"

When receiving results back from the laboratory, the task for the food manufacturer is to understand what if any impact they have on product quality and safety. Assessing product safety is relatively straight forward because the causes of food poisoning are well understood and publicized, so a glance at a test ·Certificate will quickly ascertain if any pathogens are present and if so, at what level and whether this should be a cause for concern.


So far as quality is concerned, understanding what is important and what is not can be more taxing. Microbiologists seldom talk about bacterial numbers in the same manner as normal people because of the size of the counts often involved. As an example, when looking at Aerobic Plate Count of 27,000 cfu/g it will often be simplified to "in the region of tens of thousands". Where food microbiology is concerned, we do not often have to be overly precise because in terms of bacterial numbers 27,000 is not all that much different from 54,000 although on paper it is twice as much. When comparing results from distinct test samples, microbiologists typically only begin to raise an eyebrow when there is tenfold difference in numbers, i.e. 270,000 compared to 27,000. Trending results over a period of time is of great help when concerned about product quality. Fluctuations between counts from one sample to the next can be purely random events and are a reflect ion on the product microbiology, sampling, and laboratory test techniques. It is important to appreciate why results can vary from one sample to the next and at Alliant Food Safety Labs, LLC we seek to qualify this through estimating uncertainty.

Over time, sample to sample differences will cancel each other out and a true trend may emerge, helping the Food Manufacturer steer quality improvement programs in the right direction. Trend analysis is a vital part of data analysis, after all food testing is a significant overhead for manufacturers so getting the most information out of the results is common sense.


For example, trend analysis can show unwashed raw material may be dirtier but the end product is maintaining standards therefore identifying the problematic areas of product ion.  Building up trending profiles for clients in a ready-to-present format is a service Alliant Food Safety Labs, LLC specializes in for its food customers.