meat-sampling kit

Sampling Guidelines for the Meat Industry

MINTRAC recently invited Symbio Laboratories to present information at the AMPC/MINTRAC Meat Industry Inspection and Quality Assurance Network Meetings. The presentation provided a refresher on the Department of Agriculture Meat Notice 2003/6 Revised ESAM Program sampling guidelines, as well as common issues encountered with taking and transporting samples for microbiological or chemical analysis.

Symbio Laboratories Business Development Director, Peter Horchner, explained that the main objectives to consider when sampling are:

  1. Taking a sample which is truly representative of the product; and
  2. Getting the sample to the laboratory in the same state or condition as it was when the sample was taken.

In practice, getting a representative sample means having consistent sampling technique over time, regardless of the process or person taking the sample. It also involves taking the right quantity (weight, area or volume) of the product as a sample.

Being aware of potential sources of cross contamination during the sampling process is important for ensuring an accurate test result, particularly for microbiological tests.

“We have seen examples of carcass swabbing templates that could be a potential source of contamination due to poor design or surface imperfections on the template itself which can potentially harbour bacteria,” Mr Horchner said. “The lesson here is to design the templates to minimise contamination and inspect them regularly for wear and tear.”

When transporting samples to the laboratory, getting the samples there quickly and in the same state as when sampled is critical to the final result. The biggest risk factors include temperature changes, time delays and damage in transit.

Mr Horchner provided photo examples of well packaged and transported samples, as well as rejected consignments caused by poor packing techniques, inadequate ice gel packs, leakages  or temperature abuse.

“In one unfortunate case, a courier company reported blood leaking from an esky which damaged other parcels in transit and almost resulted in a claim to clean the aircraft belly space,” Mr Horchner said.

MINTRAC Chief Executive Officer, Jenny Kroonstuiver said of the presentation, “It is important that meat companies are aware of common sampling issues to maintain the integrity of test results, particularly as companies rely on this information to validate their food safety and QA programs.”

“MINTRAC will continue to support the dissemination and sharing of this type of information at our Network Meetings,” she said.

Symbio Laboratories has completed presentations at the Network meetings in Brisbane, Perth, Wagga Wagga, Melbourne, Adelaide and Launceston. You can still register to attend at other locations through the MINTRAC website at

·        Tamworth 17 November 2016

For further information on meat sampling protocols, guidelines and testing programs contact

Symbio Laboratories on 1300 703 166 or email

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