The Science Group company’s accreditation is an in-house method for evaluation of shelf life based on specified storage protocol with optional inoculation of organisms for challenge testing followed by recovery.
Challenge testing involves inoculating a product with a known concentration of a particular ‘risk’ microorganism such as Listeria monocytogenes, to observe how it behaves during production, processing, storage and handling by the consumer.
Chris Wells, MD at Leatherhead, said accreditation gives assurance its services meet high standards.
“Challenge testing is a powerful tool providing scientific evidence of food safety. Developing safe and nutritious products is the overarching goal shared by all of our members and clients.”
Product safety and shelf life
The provider of science, technology and consultancy services to food and beverage brands said it is the most effective way to determine product safety and establish shelf life.
It is also used to aid product formulation in terms of control factors (e.g. pH and water activity), determine microbial survival rates and inactivation kinetics, validate processing conditions on lab and pilot plant scale and investigate new materials and technologies for packaging and processing.
Examples include establishing the effect of different modified atmosphere mixtures on the growth of pathogenic and spoilage organisms, determining the impact of salt and vinegar on survival of Bacillus spp. during baking and shelf life in bread and confirming lethality of a heat process in beverages.
Leatherhead uses real pathogens (opposed to surrogate strains) sourced from its culture collection including Listeria, Clostridium Botulinum, E. coli and Salmonella.
The UKAS accreditation includes lactic acid bacteria (presumptive) by UA38 based on BS EN ISO 15214:1998, Bacillus cereus (presumptive) using UA17 based on BS EN ISO 7932:2004 and Coagulase positive Staphylococci (presumptive) by UA15 based on BS EN ISO 6888-1:1999.