Microbiology

Microbiology

Your contract laboratory for microbiological analysis in Switzerland

Micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses are ubiquitous in the environment. In part, their presence is necessary for the processing of products (fermentation and ripening) and in part, their presence as pathogens and the causes of rot and decay is unwanted. 

Sufficient knowledge of the microbiological status of the foodstuff is necessary to be able to evaluate its quality. In Switzerland, this assessment is based on the Federal Law on Foodstuffs and Consumer Products, the Food Hygiene Ordinance of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs (HyV). If there are no statutory regulations, the evaluation can be carried out in accordance with the recommendations of recognised expert groups (The German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology, DGHM).

Are you looking for an accredited Swiss contract laboratory for the microbiological control of your products? We will test for you in accordance with the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (Schweizer Lebensmittelbuch, SLMB) and the Hygiene Ordinance.

Our customers come from a variety of different sectors: Restaurants, producing companies, butchers, supermarkets, beverage producers or foodstuff companies. We are characterised by our proximity both to the market and to our customers.
The following is true for all of our customers: We will process your samples quickly, competently and reliably.

Do you have any questions on the interpretation of the Swiss Book of Foodstuffs (SLMB) or do you require help in the evaluation of the test results?

 

We will be happy to advise you.

Read on here for more information or contact us.


What is the focus of microbiological quality control?

The safety of the consumer is the primary goal during production, storage and processing of the foodstuff. Pathogenic bacteria (such as salmonella, campylobacter and listeria) must not get into the production chain of foodstuffs. Using microbiological controls, during and after production, the absence of these dangerous bacteria can be proven. The total bacterial count (aerobic mesophilic germs) is additionally a measure of the general microbiological quality while the numbers of enterobacteriaceae and colibacteria can provide information about compliance with the hygiene rules during the processing of the foodstuff.

Microbiological analysis techniques

Microbiological testing: Determination of the colony count
Microbiological testing: Determination of the colony count

Classical microbiological techniques are based on multiplication of the bacteria in liquid or solid culture media that are particularly suitable for the bacterial groups being investigated. If the individual bacteria grow to form visible bacteria clusters (colonies), then they can be further identified due to their appearance, colouring and bio-chemical characteristics. For specialised questions, immunofluorescence methods or flow cytometry can be used.

Microbiological process controls

It must be ensured before the production of foodstuffs is started that suitable premises are available and that processes have been established to guarantee the safety of the foodstuff during the production and processing stages. The effectiveness of the infrastructural measures must be regularly monitored. These controls include the mandatory routine hygiene monitoring.  

All foodstuff intermediate and finished products must be tested. This includes meat, sausages, cheese, ... as well as ready-to-serve products.

Whether they are restaurants, producing companies such as butcher’s shops, production lines, beverage producers, supermarkets or foodstuff companies, all of these companies must guarantee the microbiological safety of the foodstuffs, as part of their own responsibility as well as  the legal regulations.

Pathogens in foodstuffs - what to do?

Quality control of foodstuffs: Crushing nuts for microbiological testing
Quality control of foodstuffs: Crushing nuts for microbiological testing

Pathogenic agents should not appear in foodstuffs. If pathogenic bacteria are identified despite sufficient measures being taken during the processing of the foodstuff, then the risk to the consumer must be estimated. Risk estimation can be carried out together with the laboratory and the necessary additional steps can be derived.

Concrete support can be provided in the creation of a HACCP concept (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). When the source of the contamination is located, then systematic monitoring using contact plates is feasible. These measures should be integrated into a hygiene monitoring system that is appropriate for the customer to ensure industrial hygiene.

What must be observed when taking a sample?

Bacteria and fungi are, depending on the type, able to propagate at a wide range of temperatures. At low temperatures, cell division is a slow process. At body temperature, the majority of food-related bacteria can reproduce fairly rapidly. As a result, after being taken, the sample should be cooled as soon as possible to a temperature under 5°C (but should not be frozen if possible) and should be forwarded to the laboratory in clean and sterile plastic bags or plastic boxes.

Sending the sample over the weekend is sensible only for foodstuffs with a longer shelf life; if there are any doubts, then please ask the laboratory for the best shipping options.

What are the arguments for outsourcing?

Careful surveying and experience are the key factors in the evaluation of microbiological quality. When outsourcing to an independent contract laboratory, impartiality and objective evaluation of the results are guaranteed.

Particular advantages for small businesses

  • Simple access to a great wealth of experience
  • Cost controlling: No follow-up costs for equipment, obtaining qualifications or training courses

Particular advantages for large customers:

Sample being collected by a field worker
Sample collection
  • Being free from routine work and the opportunity to focus on core tasks
  • Capacity peaks can be overcome
  • Independent results from an accredited contract laboratory
  • Sample collection service

Do you require additional information?

Please read the unabridged version in our technical article (see the right-hand column) or ask for advice from our customer services.


Our services in detail:

Microbiology: Testing using the optical microscope
Microbiology: Testing using the optical microscope
  • Consultation on microbiological testing
  • Determination of the colony count
  • High-speed methods for campylobacter spp., listeria monocytogenes and salmonella spp.
  • Industrial hygiene / hygiene monitoring: Contact plate investigation and aerial bacterial count determination
  • Hygiene control of animals to be slaughtered
  • Microbiological drinking water controls for EU meat companies
  • Differentiation of micro-organisms
  • Water activity
  • Special testing programme for milk products, cheese, meat products and beverages
  • Additional services are according to the directory of services or upon request