New ISO standard to strengthen food safety measures

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The purpose of International Standard ISO 7218:2007, Microbiology of food and animal feeding stuffs - General requirements and guidance for microbiological examinations, is to help to ensure the validity of food microbiology examinations, to assist in ensuring that the general techniques used for conducting these examinations are the same in all laboratories, to help achieve homogeneous results in different laboratories, and to contribute towards the safety of the laboratory personnel by preventing risks of infection.

The standard also incorporates the new requirements on equipment metrology and quality management in laboratories as well as the new technological developments in food microbiological examinations.

This International Standard applies to the microbiology of food, animal feeding stuffs, the food production environment and the primary production environment. It covers examination for bacteria, yeasts and moulds and can be used if supplemented with specific guidance for prions, parasites and viruses.

When conducting microbiological examinations, it is especially important that only those microorganisms which are present in the samples are isolated and enumerated and that the microorganisms do not contaminate the environment. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to pay attention to personal hygiene and to use working techniques which ensure, as far as possible, exclusion of extraneous contamination.

In order to conduct the examinations correctly, it is necessary to take certain precautions when constructing and equipping the laboratory. The standard describes for instance the principles of design and organization, for the layout of a microbiological laboratory.

Certain precautions must be taken, not only for reasons of hygiene, but also to ensure good reliability of the results. The International Standard describes the main measures to be taken throughout the various stages of the food microbiological examination process from receipt of samples by the laboratory to the contents of the test report and the disposal of samples.

If the guidance given in this International Standard is followed, this will also contribute towards maintaining the health and safety of personnel and to customer satisfaction with respect to the services offered by these laboratories.

ISO 7218:2007, Microbiology of food and animal feeding stuffs - General requirements and guidance for microbiological examinations, was developed by ISO/TC 34, Food products, SC 9, Microbiology, jointly with CEN/TC 275, Food analysis - Horizontal methods, WG 6, Microbial contamination.

This standard is available from national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat (see below) and costs 164 Swiss francs.

Sandrine Tranchard
Sandrine Tranchard

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