LENTICULE discs provide a homogenous format for external quality assessment samples: a comparison with freeze-dried samples for shellfish microbiology

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AimsThe aim was to compare the variability in Escherichia coli enumeration data and detection of Salmonella spp. between four samples of LENTICULE discs and freeze-dried samples for the Health Protection Agency's External Quality Assessment (EQA) scheme for shellfish microbiology.Methods and ResultsFour samples of known but undisclosed microbiological content were dispatched in both freeze-dried and LENTICULE disc formats to 57 participating laboratories in 20 countries. Participants examined samples using their routine methods for the most probable number (MPN) of E. coli per 100 g and the presence/absence of Salmonella spp. There was no significant difference between the Food and Environmental Proficiency Testing Unit and participating laboratories for E. coli and Salmonella spp. results. There were significantly less outlying results using the LENTICULE discs than freeze-dried sample format and equivalent or less variance for the former for E. coli MPN. There was no significant difference between LENTICULE discs and freeze-dried samples for the presence/absence of Salmonella spp.ConclusionsOverall the results indicated that there was equivalent or less variance in results for the LENTICULE discs than for freeze-dried samples, therefore LENTICULE discs are a homogenous and stable matrix for EQA samples.Significance and Impact of the StudyThis study provides validation data for the replacement of freeze-dried samples by LENTICULE discs for the Health Protection Agency Shellfish EQA Scheme.

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