The scheme consists of 4 programs over the year.

P1 Beverages and Breakfast (February)
P3 Desserts and Soups (April)
P6 Infant Formula and Starch (August)
P8 Traditional and Festive Fare (October)

Three separate samples (A, B, C) will be available in every program for each of the non-pathogens and pathogens sample sets. (Six samples per round per program: a total of 24 samples in the scheme).

Laboratories can indicate different participants for various tests and samples so several testing staff can be monitored. Similarly, programs may be used for methods under development provided this is declared before the formal report is issued by IFM.

Laboratories can either join the scheme or individual programs within the scheme. The programs are structured to suit laboratories testing at two levels:


  • Plate count,
  • Coliform count,
  • Count of thermotolerant coliforms,
  • E.coli count,
  • Bacillus cereus count,
  • Count of lactic acid bacteria.
  • Count of yeasts and moulds


  • Presence of Salmonella
  • Presence of Listeria (and L. monocytogenes)
  • Count of Staphylococcus (coagulase positive species
  • Count of Clostridium perfringens
  • Count of Enterococcus species
  • Presence of E.coli 0157


All tests are offered in every round unless indicated otherwise. (Your laboratory may request not to receive samples that are positive for certain organisms.)

Other Programs Available for Food Microbiologists

Freeze Dried Check Sample Programs (CSP):

These are economical programs consisting of 12 freeze dried samples. One sample is re-constituted every month and tested for set parameters. Results are submitted, and a summary report is provided after each round. These programs are designed to provide timely, essential information concerning your performance in the required tests:

All programs operate from May until April the following year

Test one sample every month for

        • total plate count
        • plate count at 21ÂșC
        • count of coliforms
        • count of E.coli
        • count of yeasts and moulds
        • count of coagulase positive Staphylococcus
        • count of Clostridium
        • count of Pseudomonas species
        • count of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
        • Thermo-tolerant (faecal) coliform count
        • Enterococcus count
        • Faecal Streptococcus count


Participants can test for the presence of:

        • Salmonella
        • Vibrio
        • Campylobacter
        • Yersinia