Microbiology Testing

Personal but Professional

Product and ingredient testing

Northern Hygiene Laboratories Ltd is UKAS accredited for the testing of foods for bacteria across a wide range of products and liquids. These include finished products, ingredients and work in progress.

Microbiological tests basically fall into three categories, these are:

  • Indicators of overall quality and spoilage.
  • Faecal indicators.
  • Specific food poisoning

Normally a testing regime is based on these three categories of bacteria. When it comes to faecal indicators and food poisoning bacteria the specific ones tested for will depend on the type of products you produce. For example, the bacteria tested for in meat samples vary significantly from those tested for in fruit juices.

Testing procedures and the time taken for the test vary and, in the case of the latter, times range from 24 hours for coliforms to five days for yeasts and moulds. Thus, defining your testing needs is not simple but we are here to help you.

Tests we undertake

Total Viable Count

All the bacteria present in a sample give an overall indication of the conditions of production and keeping quality. This is known as the Total Viable Count.

Coliforms & enterobacteriaceae

These are important faecal indicators that indicate faecal contamination and the potential presence of other faecal organisms such as salmonella.

E. coli

The main faecal indicator that reflects the presence of mammalian faecal contamination.

Staphylococcus aureus

An important food poisoning micro-organism that is commonly found in infected sores and cuts on staff.

Clostridium perfringens

A spore-forming food poisoning organism that is classically associated with reheated meat dishes.

Salmonella spp

The well known food poisoning organism that is associated with many different types of food, including meat, dairy products and vegetables.

Listeria spp

Another important food poisoning organism that has been associated with pàté, coleslaw, sandwich fillings, soft cheeses and other specific foods.

Bacillus cereus

A classic food poisoning bacterium that primarily was associated with rice based dishes and is now being seen more in pasta based products.


The 'new' food poisoning organism that is often associated with poultry products but is more widely spread and receiving more media coverage.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Not so commonly found, but this bacterium has been associated with some meats and, more importantly, fish and fish products.

E. coli 0157

The real killer that has been associated with several major food poisoning incidents with mortalities. Detected by specialised tests that we provide.

Yeasts & moulds

Spoilage organisms in a wide range of products including soft fruits, meats and chilled foods.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

This group of organisms could cause spoilage in food, especially in vacuum packaging.


Another food spoilage organism often associated with spoilage in fish products but can also be found in meat. They are found in the environment, in soil and water.


A group of organisms found in the faeces of most humans and many animals, they are used as a marker of faecal contamination in food products.