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Guideline Microbiological Criteria

Guideline microbiological criteria can be used if relevant legal criteria do not exist for the particular combination of food and microorganism (toxin or metabolite) of interest.

Guidance Note 3

The FSAI’s Guidance Note 3 sets guideline microbiological limits for pathogens, microbial toxins, hygiene indicators and aerobic colony counts in ready-to-eat foods placed on the market. These guideline limits can be used to assess the acceptability of ready-to-eat food, if legal microbiological criteria do not exist for the particular microorganism of interest in ready-to-eat food.

Guidance Note 3 is intended to be used by food business operators, enforcement officers and food testing laboratories.

International Commission on Microbiological Safety of Foodstuffs

Guideline microbiological criteria for a range of foods and microorganisms are set in 'Microorganisms in Foods 8: Use of Data for Assessing Process Control and Product Acceptance'.  This book, published by the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods – ICMSF – provides practical guidance on appropriate testing of food and food processing environments.

The ICMSF aims to provide the scientific basis for microbiological criteria and to promote principles for their establishment and application and also to overcome the difficulties caused by nations' varying microbiological standards and analytical methods.