Food Testing

Our experience and expertise

PathWest's Environmental Microbiology Unit (EMU) provides microbiological testing on all types of food and environmental surface swabs in the food handling, manufacturing, and primary production environments. We help determine acceptability of ingredients or foods as required for ensuring product safety and quality.

PathWest is represented on the Standards Australia FT/35 Food Microbiology committee. We work with the Department of Health Food Unit to investigate food complaints, poisonings and food borne outbreaks.

Food testing services

PathWest's Environmental Microbiology Unit (EMU) has over 40 years' experience in food microbiology testing. We perform testing for the Department of Health, local government authorities and many private clients to determine the quality and safety of food products and food processing environments.

We test a range of fresh, dried, manufactured and processed food products including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, dairy and seafood. The Foods laboratory offers a range of food microbiological tests relevant to the food safety personnel to assess suitability for human consumption, determination of shelf life and assessment of adherence to food handling and hygienic practices.

Our Foods Laboratory is at the forefront of new testing developments and offers a variety of specialised and innovative molecular techniques such as PCR detection of pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria and Shiga-like toxin producing E. coli (including E. coli O157:H7).

Food nutrition testing - vitamins

PathWest provides a vitamin testing service, helping quantitate vitamin content in food products. This includes the analysis of any type of food for Cobalamin (Vitamin B12), Folate and Thiamin (Vitamin B1).

Testing the safety of the food production environment

We can also assist with environmental monitoring for food production environments with a variety of swab-based tests. Please contact the laboratory if you require additional information.

Learn more about food and vitamin testing

PathWest Environmental Microbiology Unit (EMU) Foods & Vitamins Laboratory test food and swab samples for bacteria as well as other microbiological tests. We also offer vitamin testing on all food matrices.

For food and swab samples - tests include:

  • Total plate counts
  • Total coliforms
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) – including SLT E.coli & E.coli O157:H7
  • Salmonella detection (including full serotyping)
  • Listeria spp detection (including speciation if required)
  • L. monocytogenes detection and enumeration
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Coagulase positive staphylococci
  • Bacillus cereus group enumeration
  • Yeast and Mould enumeration
  • Vibrio spp detection
  • Campylobacter spp detection and enumeration
  • pH testing
  • Water Activity testing
  • Antibiotics in milk & milk products.

 

Vitamin testing includes:

  • Cobalamin (B12)
  • Total Folate
  • Folic Acid
  • Thiamin (B1).

As a food manufacturing business, you have a range of responsibilities related to food safety and hygiene. PathWest is not able to provide advice on what to test for but if you are just starting out, we can recommend these resources from the WA Health Department to help you better understand the roles and responsibilities when it comes to state and local government, and for food manufacturers.

Yes we do.

For expiry date or shelf life testing we would require one product for each time interval you would like tested.  For example if you would like us to test your product for shelf life when we receive it, in 2 days then again at 1 week then we will need 3 samples.  

We will store your product under your recommended storage conditions until the next testing interval. On each of these 3 samples we will perform all the tests you requested and bill you accordingly.

PathWest aims to provide competitive pricing, working to support Western Australian business and industry. Pricing differs very much on what testing services you require. Please request a quote.

Turnaround times vary for each test. Please ask the scientist in charge when the report should be ready. Interim reports can be emailed out if some tests are completed but waiting for other test to be finalised.

You will need ensure you have spoken with the Foods Laboratory before sending any samples. You can call the Foods and Vitamins Laboratory directly with any questions on (08) 6457 1191 or send us an enquiry.

It will be the client’s responsibility to collect and transport the sample/s to our laboratory. Please ensure you download the appropriate sampling, collection and transport guides available on our  resources page.

We can also help with a quote to get you started.

It is important that you provide samples according to PathWest's collection, sampling and transport guides. Please visit our resources library for more information on collecting, packing and transporting your samples for optimal testing.

Our Resources page outlines the best way to get in touch with our laboratories.

Unfortunately we are not able to give advice regarding what organisms to test for routine/shelf life/used by testing.  It is the responsibility of the food producer to have the adequate skills and knowledge to assess what their product requires.  If you don’t have the skills and knowledge to make these decisions you will need to engage a food safety consultant to assist you (you should be able to search on line for Food Safety Consultants in the Perth area) or contact your local health authority.

Please find attached links to two WA Department of Health fact sheets that may help you to better understand the roles and responsibilities when comes to state government, local government and food manufactures. First fact sheet was written for members of public (thinking about starting a food business) and the second one was written for WA EHOs for their consideration when they are assessing application for any type of food business activity.

https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/S_T/Thinking-about-starting-a-food-manufacturing-business

https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Assessment-of-businesses-that-manufacture-food

PathWest EMU will supply the containers, coolers and ice bricks required. You can either pick these up at the laboratory or have them sent to you by courier. You do not pay for the equipment but you do pay for the courier.

Samples should be returned in a cooler to maintain the required temperature. Most microbiological samples should be kept cold (2-8°C). The scientist in charge will explain this in an email or by phone. Any questions please feel free to contact the laboratory.

Dry food: Room temperature. Perishables: Packed in dry ice or refrigerated.

Any questions please feel free to contact the laboratory.

This will depend on how many test analysis need to be done. Ideally we require a minimum of 200 grams for routine testing of food samples.

Turnaround time is approximately 2 weeks.

Important note: Please indicate if samples have been fortified with vitamins. This will ensure an appropriate starting point for sample dilution and will improve turn-around time.

 

Yes, We can send samples by courier or you can organise to pick them up in person from the laboratory. You do not pay for the equipment but you do pay for the courier.

The scientist in charge will be happy to let you know the cost of individual tests. An official written quote can also be sent if required.

An invoice is emailed the month following your test report. Bank details for payment will be provided with the invoice. 

No. PathWest EMU do not add a batch or administration fee. 

No, containers, coolers and ice bricks are provided free of charge.

Samples can be delivered in person to the laboratory at:

PathWest Food Hygiene Laboratory
Second Floor J Block
Hospital Avenue
NEDLANDS 6009

Or sent by courier to the same address.

For instructions on where to find the laboratory contact the scientist in charge.

Do not take samples to a PathWest Collection Centre. These centres are for pathology samples only.

You must deliver the samples yourself or use an external courier.

 

Microbiological samples should be in the laboratory and tested within 24 hours from collection. We do not provide routine testing on the weekends.Our hours are 730 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Samples need to be in the laboratory by 3pm for processing. We do not accept late samples on Friday.

If samples need to be delivered and/or reported outside these times please call to discuss the options available.

All samples should be collected using aseptic technique at all times. We can provide instructions on how to collect swab samples if required. 

The sample container generally will be labelled. The label must include the sample description or name, the sample date and time. Sample details on the container must be the same as on the accompanying request form.

The sample container generally will be labelled. The label must include the sample description or name, the sample date and time. Sample details on the container must be the same as on the accompanying request form.

Yes. This can be emailed to you. The request form must be filled out with the sample description or name, the date and time sampled, your signature, a contact phone number and email, a purchase order number if you require that to also be reported, Sample details must be the same as on the accompanying sample container. For each request form a separate report will be created. Multiple samples can be submitted on the one request form but each sample must be on an individual line. The maximum number of samples that will fit on a request form is usually six. If you require more than six samples to be on the one report still complete multiple request forms and number them as page 1 of etc.

On the form you can also note the brand, date of manufacture, use by date and temperature. All these details can then be included on your final report.

Food, swabs and vitamin samples all have their own special request forms.


Yes. Please write that you have received a quote and the date that is on the front page of the quote or email. Quotes expire at the end of each financial year.

Turnaround times depend entirely on the test you ordered. Interim reports can be emailed out if some tests are completed but waiting for other test to be finalised.

If you need tests urgently, please contact the scientist in charge and let them know. Please note that microbiological tests cannot be hurried as we need to wait the required time for growth of microorganisms to perform your test accurately.

The results will be emailed as a PDF to the email address supplied as soon as the results have been finalised.


Please contact the scientist in charge and let them know. Microbiological tests cannot be hurried as we have to wait the required time for growth but we can ensure reports are emailed as soon as complete if you notify us. 

Minimum of 3-5g of sample is required. Please ensure that the sample is fully homogenised.

The results will be emailed as a pdf to the email address you supplied as soon as the results have been finalise. If you do not have an email please contact us to organise an alternative method of delivery.

NATA is the National Association of Testing Authorities.  PathWest EMU is a NATA-accredited laboratory.

NATA accreditation provides our customers with the assurance that an external body audits PathWest EMU to ensure competency of the laboratory in performing analyse.

Not all tests are covered by NATA and you can obtain that information by contacting the laboratory. 
Most test results provided for tests not covered in our scope of accreditation are often as valid as the accredited tests. The difference is that we have not provided the methodology to NATA for formal assessment.

Please feel free to contact the laboratory with any questions you have. It is important that collection and transport are done correctly and we are happy to help you where we can.

Contact: Tuyen Lam on 6457 2165 or Sandra Sjollema 6457 2167.


Last Updated: 02/03/2022