Proficiency testing is interlaboratory comparison that calibrates the performance of laboratory personnel and other relevant staff, who conduct microbiological, chemical, or physical analyses of ingredients, materials, work-in-progress, finished products and the processing environment.
According to ISO/IEC 17043:2010, proficiency testing (PT) is the evaluation of participant performance against pre-established criteria by means of interlaboratory comparisons.
A proficiency test is a method used to demonstrate competency and validate a laboratory’s measurement process by comparing the in-house results to the results of a reference laboratory and/ or other participant laboratories.
Proficiency testing is part of the SQF Code requirement for in-house laboratory testing. The SQF Code requires that when internal laboratories are used to conduct input, environmental, or product analyses, the sampling and testing methods are to be in accordance with the applicable requirements of ISO/IEC 17025, which includes annual proficiency testing. This means that a site that conducts laboratory tests, critical to food safety, is required to verify the accuracy and reliability of the testing methods used on site through a proficiency test. The applicable proficiency tests are to be conducted annually, at a minimum.
Proficiency testing is not about products but testing procedures. For example, tests critical to food safety such as Aw, pH, or pathogen testing use the same method across many different products.
The table below helps to explain some of the common misperceptions of what is and is not proficiency testing.
|Proficiency Testing is NOT||Proficiency Testing IS|
|Intra-Laboratory Comparison||Inter-laboratory Comparison|
|For product quality testing (or sensory)||For food safety testing (product or environmental)|
|Conducted for testing sent to a 3rd party||Conducted for testing completed on-site|
Proficiency testing is a round-robin type of test in which duplicate samples are selected in identical fashion and tested via intra-laboratory. The proficiency test samples could either come from the site or the external laboratory. Regardless of the source of the sample, the goal of the proficiency test is to verify the testing methods conducted by the site. When developing a proficiency testing process consider the following:
The following are examples of records to assist in the implementation and review of this topic:
The following are examples of people to interview to assist in the implementation and review of this topic:
The following are examples of questions to ask to assist in the implementation and review of this topic:
The following are examples of observations to assist in the implementation and review of this topic:
Updated Date: 2021/04/01