Leatherhead Food Research has been awarded UKAS accreditation for the evaluation of challenge testing and has added microwave ovens to its UKAS-accredited cooking instruction techniques.

The new achievements are recognition of the standards Leatherhead works to as a provider of science, technology and consultancy services to global food and beverage brands.

Challenge testing involves inoculating a product with a specified microorganism, such as Listeria monocytogenes, to observe how it behaves during production, storage and handling by the consumer. It is said to be the most effective way to determine product safety and establish shelf life.

Leatherhead is now UKAS accredited for the evaluation of challenge testing including inoculation of specified organisms, specified storage and recovery of specific organisms.

Chris Wells, managing director at Leatherhead, said: “Challenge testing is a powerful tool providing scientific evidence of food safety. Developing safe and nutritious products is the overarching goal shared by all of our members and clients. UKAS assessments are known for their rigour, so this accreditation gives added assurance that our offering meets the highest standards.”

Leatherhead states that, in 2017, it became the first provider of UKAS accredited cooking instructions techniques. The latest addition means that it is now UKAS accredited for testing in microwave ovens, gas and electric thermal ovens, electric fan ovens, gas and electric hobs, gas and electric grills and deep fat fryers.

“Last year, we surveyed 1,300 UK consumers who own a microwave and found that 81% use a microwave daily or every few days – largely for heating ready meals or leftovers,” Wells added.

“With such prevalent use of microwaves, it’s important that we provide clients with independent verification of our techniques. The UKAS accreditation shows that our methods are robust and scientifically sound.”