Agar Plates2

Tasmanian Laboratory Services provides a range of microbiological analysis to meet most routine testing requirements.
In addition to these in-house tests the laboratory has access to a number of NATA accredited referral partners who assist us in meeting your testing requirements.


Drinking Water
The testing for any specific pathogen in a drinking water sample is not indicated in general situations, either because the laboratory methods are unreliable, the organisms are in too low concentration to be detectable, or the costing for such analyses is excessive. Evaluating drinking water for the likely presence of pathogens is best performed by testing for indicator bacteria of contamination be that faecal or non-faecal in origin. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recommend that thermotolerant coliforms/E. coli be performed, in addition a standard plate count, Total Coliforms and/or faecal streptococci/Enterococcus count count may be useful. Thermotolerant coliforms/E. coli should be less than 1 Colony Forming Unit (CFU)/100mL.

Packaged (Bottled) Water, Packaged Ice and Mineral Water
The Australian Food Standards Code requires that microbial quality packaged water and packaged ice meets the following requirements; E. coli less than 1 CFU/100mL. Further testing such as Standard Plate Count, sulphur reducing anaerobes, enterococcus and Psuedomonas aeruginosa may be useful and are certainly recommended by the Australian Bottled Water Association.

Cooling Tower Water
The plate count of a cooling tower is recommended to be less than 100,000 CFU/mL and a Legionella count to be less than 10 CFU/mL.

Recreational Water
Recreational water can be categorised into primary (where head immersion is likely) and secondary (where only wading is performed). The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) recommends that primary contact recreational water should have a median (of 5 samples collected within a four week period) thermotolerant coliform/E.coli count not exceeding 150 CFU/ 100mL. Secondary contact water should have a thermotolerant coliform/E.coli count not exceeding 1,000 CFU/100mL for a random sample.

Food Processing Water
The water used to wash fruit and vegetable should meet the standards set by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. In regional and rural areas tank, dam, lake, stream or bore water often has high plate count levels and may require some form of disinfection, such as chlorination. It is important to remember that water storage tanks must regularly be cleaned and disinfected.

Swimming Pools and Spas
It is recommended that the plate count should be less than 100 CFU/mL, Thermotolorant Coliform/E. coli count be less than 1 CFU/10mL and that a Pseudomonas aeruginosa count be less than 1 CFU/100mL.
In some situations a Legionella count should also be performed where the result should be less than 10 CFU/mL.

Reclaimed Water
The NHMRC and the Australian Water Resources Council recommend that unless otherwise approved by appropriate authorities, treated reclaimed water should have a thermotolerant coliform count not exceeding 1,000 CFU/100mL. However multiple sampling is recommended at half hourly intervals and acceptable results differ for these analyses.

Soil
Bacterial analyses for thermotolerant coliforms and/or Escherichia coli may be performed on environmental soil samples.

Food Quality
The microbial quality of food is constantly under review by both the public and health authorities. All food processors (from manufacturing firms to school tuck shops) are required to ensure that safe food is supplied to customers. Bacterial food poisoning is the most common cause of food borne illness. Generally more than 90% of the cases of food poisoning each year are caused by Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Bacillus cereus and pathogenic Escherichia coli.

Food Shelf Life Evaluation
When evaluating the microbial quality of a food, to be held at a controlled temperature, there are two variables to consider, the time interval of performing the analyses and the organisms to be analysed. It is recommended that as a minimum the food be evaluated at Day 0 (day of production), Day Max (day at which expected shelf life is complete) and Day Max+50% (Day Max plus half the number of the expected shelf life). For example, if a shelf life were set for 10 days, testing would be performed at Day 0, Day 10 and Day 15. Obviously by increasing the number of samples taken on a day and increasing the frequency of evaluation during the period more information and greater accuracy of results will occur. The Day Max+50% sample provides valuable data to the manufacturer that the product will remain in good microbial quality if consumed (as often is the case) after the "Use By", "Best By" or "Expiry Date". When evaluating shelf life it is the norm to generally test for spoilage organisms best represented by a standard plate count at Day 0 and any further testing conducted to Day Max. Indicator organisms such as total coliforms, E. coli and yeasts and moulds may be included during the shelf life period particularly at Day 0. Testing at Day Max+50% should cover spoilage, indicator and pathogenic bacteria (eg Salmonella, Listeria, Coagulase Positive Staphylococcus, Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens). It may be worthwhile to include other spoilage organisms such as Brochothrix thermosphacta and Lactic acid bacteria for some food types. 

Surface Hygiene Testing
A major component of the hygiene of a kitchen, processing line or food production plant is in the management of cleaning and upkeep of equipment, utensils and workbenches. Surface Hygiene swabbing can be undertaken to assist in monitoring these processes.

Scope of NATA Accreditation
Tasmanian Laboratory Services currently hold accreditation for the following tests.

Click on this link: NATA

Other Tests
If the tests you require are not listed please contact the laboratory.