Food Laboratory Testing

By Support

Proficiency Testing To Check Errors in Food Laboratory Testing


The report provides a quantitative description in the area of proficiency testing to check errors in food laboratory testing in the context of Eurofins Laboratory, Penrose, Auckland. It starts with a brief description of the Eurofins company and its position in the industry before exposing the problem of errors. The recent past has recorded a number of misunderstandings between the clients, the public, and the company in its role of providing analytical services. The analytical methodology of proficiency testing is described in relation to accreditation; companies are required to establish a pre-requisite of compliance to the set standards and are therefore allowed to operate before full accreditation. The field process is described so as to identify the errors that alter the truth of laboratory food testing results. The industry requirements are then established as the guiding standards.


Eurofins Laboratories has operated in the field of bio-analytical testing for a considerable period. The organization is missioned to contribute to the health and safety of the global population through the provision of high-quality laboratory testing and advisory services. The operations of the firm benefit the internal stakeholders, in this place, the employees and the shareholders from the external point of view. The company’s focus is customer satisfaction through listening to them and providing health and safety guarantees that exceed their expectations. A series of innovations are sought to add value to the customers and help them attain their objectives (Key, 2016).

The area of proficiency testing in Eurofins assures timely and accurate results by applying technology in the testing processes. Proficiency testing is always conducted appropriately by qualified staff to check laboratory errors in food testing. The integrity of staff cannot be compromised because of the drive to respect the customers and reveal ethical conduct in all the operations of financing and business at large (Mao, 2016). The analytical processes in testing food products have been broken down to characterize for safety, purity, authenticity, identity, origin, and composition so that there is appropriateness in the error-checked results.

Research objectives, questions, hypothesis, and aims

  1. Objectives

This report aims to reveal the effectiveness of proficiency testing to check errors in food laboratory testing, citing the vital role of safeguarding the health of consumers of food products. Errors in results will lead to legal consequences, which may cost businesses unnecessary costs for damages, and even to closure of the business (Cytogenetics Committees College Of American Pathologists, 2012). The challenge posed to clients through the sale of perilous products will eventually refute a firm’s image and result in the loss of business to competitors.

  1. Questions
  • How efficient are the Eurofins’ proficiency testing procedures?
  • Are the customers satisfied with the services they receive from Eurofins?
  • Have there been any public claims of dissatisfaction?
  • How long does it take to analyze tests?
  • Who is in charge of testing and analysis?
  1. Hypothesis
  2. Analytical processes in Eurofins are effective.
  3. Few cases of errors are present in food laboratory testing results.
  4. Aim

The report aims to help Eurofins Laboratories and other food laboratory testing practices develop an effective way to check test errors in food products to sustain their objectives. The problem of errors in the industry guided by strict standards is found to be difficult to eliminate (Analytical Methods Committee, 2012).

Literature review

Results reliability

A number of researches have been done concerning food laboratory testing with an emphasis on the accuracy of results. This implies that the test results’ efficacy and reliability are central to the research.  This is fundamental because the more accurate the laboratory testing results are, the higher the likelihood of the researchers making informed conclusions and decisions. The opposite is evidently true.

Relevant systems

Proficiency testing has been described as comprising a system within a laboratory to conduct regular testing and comparison of results. As such, the presence of the relevant systems in the laboratory is indispensable. This is to facilitate routine testing remarkably and consequently expedite the analogy of the established results.   This will promote the identification of similarities and disparities in the test results.

Score production and proficiency testing efficacy

Portions of identical food materials will be tested in various stations and then analyzed independently before compiling the findings to produce a score that relates to the accuracy of the results. This is necessary to enable the preparation of a final score that is holistically reflective of the entire specific food materials tested. The available research identifies proficiency testing as the most effective way used by laboratories to perform checks on errors (Bockstaele, 2014). A robust proficiency testing scheme will give laboratory directors confidence in equipment, staff, and methodologies and assurance of the deliverance of results at the qualities required by customers (Maršan, 2017).

The critique

However, the area of complex data has been overlooked by researchers. This implies that researchers often ignore the relevant significance of the convoluted data. This can be detrimental if not diligently resolved. When test data becomes sophisticated, high costs are incurred by the laboratory on staff and equipment. That is, more financial resources are expended on paying the laboratory employees as well as on the procurement, servicing, and maintenance of the laboratory equipment. As a result, the cost of operating the business upsurges.

 Similarly, the prices of the end products from the enterprises increase. The available systems in the industry are ineffective, making it difficult to identify the particular test problems. This is partly attributed to the fact that a majority of the businesses are reluctant or rather are not fully committed to investing in fully functional systems. As such, the few available systems end up being overstretched, yet they are ineffective. Sadly, this hinders the identification of the relevant particular test problems.

The z-score

The z-score is the tool that analysts use to compile test results in the laboratories (Altzitzoglou, 2016). The score tests the distribution of test data across the normal distribution and a null hypothesis. The theory is based on a central limit to test for the normal distribution of large samples. The z-score has predetermined significance levels with single critical values each, allowing for many tests. Proficiency tests will be deemed appropriate if the samples to be tested are distributed to various laboratories for an integrated analysis of the results. Test parameters must be pre-known, and if not, they should be estimated with a high level of accuracy. Proficiency tests are also assumed to vary normally. The test proves to be highly reliable for the large number of samples that are required to be done.

 Theoretical framework

The food industry determines the healthy being of consumers. It is vital for laboratories to be involved in protecting consumers’ health by ensuring that the products in the market are safe to eat (Mittendorfer, 2016). Proficiency testing eliminates the possibility of errors. Any business organization has to completely consider all the stakeholders: financiers, customers, management, employees, government, other businesses, and the public. The relationship between the organization and its stakeholders is represented below. Laboratories have to participate in proficiency testing programs and prove sustainability before they can be accredited (Starink, 2016).


The research is aimed at establishing the preferable standards against which the Eurofins laboratories will adopt as best practices. The current state of proficiency testing was assessed alongside the food/feed test of proficiency. The analytical data in the food/feed approach and safety/defense had to be assessed simultaneously (Sykes, 2017). Available test programs include private, federal, and state assets. The existing proficiency testing was also leveraged to identify potential areas for enhancements. Performance levels of laboratory testing were also evaluated through an integrated process. The routine samples of the clients were treated to be similar to test samples. Eurofins company is accredited and receives appropriate funding for short-term projects (Weiss, 2017).

Research design and methods

The research method used is quantitative. It is appropriate because proficiency tests to check errors in food laboratory testing involve a series of interrelated tests of samples with different staff at various laboratories which are analyzed separately (Xiao, 2017). After analysis has been done, the results are compiled with a centralized coordination. As identified earlier, test samples are similar to clients’ regular samples. All types of samples must be included as appropriate.

As accreditation requirements, proficiency tests should be reviewed with the required standards. Observation of test processes, apparatus, and staff with an appropriate review of the standard processes, efficiency of test apparatus, and staff qualification levels had to be reviewed, respectively. The research extends to cover a large area and requires a highly qualitative approach. Results must cover the area of staff from the first to the last, all the processes and apparatus and hence must accommodate all the composition. Eurofins company has over 3000 staff locally. The company does proficiency testing, and the remaining task is to investigate the effectiveness of checking errors (Zhong, 2016).


Proficiency testing is supposed to offer a confidential and independent assessment of performance. The competence of staff will provide noble and comprehensive, which, on the other hand, will reduce the likelihood of errors. Appropriate methods will boost confidence in laboratories only if they are performed in the correct way and that it is done effectively. Staff are called out to operate equipment adequately and always test results against the set standards, which keep on changing and must be known up to date (Wood, 2006).

Significance of the research of proficiency testing to checking of errors in food laboratory testing

The research identified the following best practices as appropriately effective standards to guide the food laboratory testing industry in achieving its objective of safeguarding the health of users of food products (Zendai, 2017).

  • All testing methods, techniques, tests, and technologies where proficiency testing is done under the requirement of competency as laid down for accreditation.
  • Laboratories that are partly accredited and participate in proficiency testing best practices for all testing methods, techniques, tests, and technologies for samples in food/feed tests do so to demonstrate competency in the laboratory.
  • Participation in proficiency testing can be done based on a program that is provided by an accredited organization or a provider that adheres to the general requirements of proficiency testing in an assessment for conformity.
  • A laboratory can only participate in programs of proficiency testing that are relevant with respect to its scope of accreditation. Regular testing for regulatory requirements may also be necessary. Accreditation covers a four-year period, whereas regulatory testing is done at a steady frequency, usually once every year.
  • It is required for laboratories accredited in the same scope to share their results of proficiency testing and to take curative actions to make sure that prevailing problems are controlled to establish competence in techniques, methods, tests, and technology.
  • When a proficiency test program cannot address a particular technique, method, technology, and test necessary for compliance with the best practices as identified above, the laboratory can rely on internal quality checks and measures for control, which must be documented.

Project Plan

Research milestones

A survey of Eurofins laboratories was helpful in capturing data on laboratories, processes, methods, techniques, tests, and technology in the industry. It was easier to capture a wide range of data using the survey technique.

Interviews were also conducted to get technical information that observation could not capture.  A total of three management staff and seven operational staff were interviewed. The interview process revealed information about scopes of accreditation, prominent errors, the performance of proficiency testing programs, and strategies undertaken to deal with the changing industry. Most errors identified resulted from normal factors of uncertainties. The normal margins of error have a cumulative consequence of giving a wrong presentation of the state of affairs (ZhiQun, 2017). Errors identified to have bad consequences cumulatively are listed below.

  • The errors in handling samples and their storage.
  • Inadequate training of staff.
  • Errors of calculation.
  • Errors in reporting.
  • The errors arise from inappropriate and incorrect methods.
  • Failures in culture, media, and equipment.

The resources required for the research are properly formulated questionnaires. The image below shows a sample questionnaire used for the research.


In sum, the industry is seen to be constantly changing; hence, the problem of errors remains to prevail because industry conditions keep changing through both the regulations being imposed by the regulatory body. Food proficiency testing laboratories should always have up-to-date information about the necessary regulations. Other influences that define the presence of errors are the consumers’ health requirements and business costs. Finally, Eurofins company must position itself to be able to deliver services in the interest of all the stakeholders.


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Analytical Methods Committee. (2012). Proficiency testing of analytical laboratories: organization and statistical assessment. Analyst, 97-104.

Bockstaele, V. (2014). Trends in quality in the analytical laboratory. II. Analytical method validation and quality assurance. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 535-552.

Cytogenetics Committees College Of American Pathologists. (2012). Clinical laboratory assays for amplification and overexpression: quality assurance, standardization, and proficiency testing. Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine, 807.

Key, P. (2016). International proficiency testing of analytical laboratories for foods and feeds from 1990 to 1996: the experiences of the United Kingdom Food Analysis Performance Assessment Scheme. Journal of AOAC International, 895-1007.

Mao, Y. (2016). Application of origin software in drawing report graphical representation of proficiency testing data. Journal of Food Safety and Quality, 4569-4575.

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Mittendorfer, S. (2016). Proficiency Testing of Feed Constituents: A Comparative Evaluation of European and Developing Country Laboratories and Its Implications for Animal Production. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 7679-7687.

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Sykes, M. (2017). Chloramphenicol stereoisomers need to be distinguished: consequences observed from a proficiency test. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 536-541.

Weiss, T. (2017). Measurement of Gluten in Food Products: Proficiency‐Testing Rounds as a Measure of Precision and Applicability. Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, 1-83.

Wood, R. (2006). The international harmonized protocol for the proficiency testing of analytical chemistry laboratories. Pure and Applied Chemistry, 145-196.

Xiao, S. (2017). Preparation and verification of Listeria monocytogenes samples for proficiency testing. Journal of Food Safety and Quality, 556-561.

Zendai, M. (2017). A Tentative Exploration on Veterinary-Drug-Residue Proficiency Testing and Interlaboratory Comparisons. Hans Journal of Food and Nutrition Science, 32.

ZhiQun, Y. (2017). Laboratory management from the proficiency testing suspicious results of ammonia nitrogen. Journal of Food Safety and Quality, 2336-2339.

Zhong, W. (2016). Proficiency testing results and analysis of quantitative detection of Staphylococcus aureus in food. Journal of Food Safety and Quality, 2758-2762.