Many commodities must be tested prior to export as part of trade arrangements between Australia and importing countries. Testing requirements for meat and meat products are contained in Volume 2 of the export meat manual. As part of its role in maintaining markets for the meat industry, the department established an Approved Laboratory Program. The program's aim is to ensure the validity of microbiological testing results obtained from regulatory testing programs and the recognition of equivalence of these programs by importing countries. Laboratories participating in the program are required to use only approved testing methods for the analysis of samples taken as part of an export certification program.
In specifying approved methods the department is not trying to limit innovation or flexibility but rather is trying to ensure consistency of results with those obtained in other countries ie equivalence. As such, where required, methods must be approved by importing countries prior to them being adopted for testing exported meat and meat products in Australia.
A manual of approved methods for the analysis of carcases and meat and meat products is available at the link above. A brief summary of each method inlcuding a checklist used for assessing compliance is provided (as a guide) for testing of:
- Aerobic Plate Count
- Escherichia coli O157:H7
- Escherichia coli Non-O157 (top six STEC)
- Generic Escherichia coli
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Salmonella spp
Other test methodologies and target organisms may be added to this list from time to time and the department will inform stakeholders of any changes to approved methods.
This web page is not intended to provide detailed methodologies for each test and does not replace the requirement for laboratories to have detailed copies of all test methods for which they have approval. Rather it provides a summary of each approved method followed by a methodology 'checklist'. Methods are described in terms of the specific tests relevant to the department export certification of certain meat and meat products.
The checklists will be a useful tool for laboratories as part of their QA program, for Technical Assessors carrying out assessments of laboratories on behalf of an Assessment Authority (i.e. NATA) and for the department. Checklists are not exhaustive and have been deliberately limited to those areas that have the greatest impact on the validity of test results.
Recipes of some less commonly used media required for some of the methods are provided in the following document:
Again this is not meant to be a complete list, nor is it meant to provide all the information required to prepare specific media. Rather, it provides a general description of the media and the principles behind the use of these media.