Food Microbiology

Food Microbiology

Microbiology studies microscopic spoilage organisms such as bacteria, viruses and pathogens. When these organisms are consumed, it can lead to foodborne illness, which is a serious public health concern. Food can additionally become contaminated through inadequate sanitation, cross-contamination and the improper application of process control points. The testing of food and production facilities can be mandated by regulatory bodies, export requirements, customer protocols, or internal food safety and quality assurance programs.


Depending on the testing requirement, there are a variety of microbiology tests:

Indicator Microorganisms assess the quality of ingredients in food as well as the hygiene of a manufacturing environment. Some common indicators include:

  • Aerobic and Anaerobic Colony Count
  • Coliforms & E.coli
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Yeast & Mold
  • Psychrophiles
  • Thermophilic Sporeformers
  • Clostridium perfringens

Pathogen & toxin testing detects the presence of these organisms in food, which can have major consequences for a brand's reputation, resulting in recalls, facility shutdowns or production delays. Pathogens and toxins include:

  • Listeria species
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Salmonella
  • E.coli 0157:H7
  • Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)
  • Vibrio
  • Shigella
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Staphylococcus aureus

Microbial Identification / Serology identifies the species that are present to help you understand correlations between an affected product and its potential source in the environment or a food ingredient.


Bureau Veritas has specialized ISO 17025 accredited laboratories throughout North America covering all matrices related to microbiological testing. We utilize a wide array of Health Canada and AOAC methods approved by the CFIA, USDA and FDA that vary in matrix applicability, sensitivity, turnaround time and cost. Results are provided in as fast as 1.5 days.

Our microbiology tests have multiple applications:

  • Product testing: prevents contaminated products from reaching consumers, while ensuring ingredients are safe and comply with regulatory requirements.
  • Environmental monitoring: ensures the facility environment is hygienic and sanitary, thereby verifying the effectiveness of the sanitation program through environmental swabbing.
  • Water safety: assesses the quality and safety of water in hand washing sinks, sanitation lines or water/ice throughout the facility to ensure it is not a source of contamination.
  • Air safety: monitors environmental air and compressed air to detect the presence of airborne microbes that could contaminate products and production lines.

Our technical experts will work with you to determine the right method for your needs, and our dedicated service team is available to support you as issues arise and regulatory requirements change.


In response to reoccurring E. coli outbreaks in Canada, the CFIA has implemented temporary import conditions for romaine lettuce originating from California's Salinas counties. Importers will be required to provide a Certificate of Analysis for each shipment to demonstrate that the product does not contain detectable levels of E. coli O157:H7. This measure is in effect for all shipments arriving in Canada between October 7 and December 31, 2020. Bureau Veritas provides O157:H7 testing across Canada with a fast turnaround, including logistical options for sample transport.


Through the Bureau Veritas digital customer portal, you can also order sampling supplies and access test results to generate custom reports or address consumer complaint investigations. It can additionally uncover any problem areas within your environmental monitoring program, which can be reviewed for continuous improvement.

Food Quality Testing & Safety Programs (English)