Food Microbiology

Food Microbiology

Hill Labs has an extensive array of pathogen, food spoilage and food quality related tests for products and swabs. Both traditional and molecular based testing platforms are utilised to ensure industry leading turnaround times and reliability of results.

Quality Indicator Testing

Quality indicator testing covers a broad range of microorganisms to demonstrate the quality of your products, and allow you to monitor your processes. We offer an extensive range of  microbiology tests for quality and/or spoilage indicators with industry-leading turnaround times, so you can get your product to market quicker.

Commonly requested tests include:

  • Aerobic plate count
  • Yeast and mould
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Enterobacteriaceae

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Pathogen Testing

Pathogen testing is used to identify the presence of potentially harmful pathogenic organisms in finished products, ingredients, and manufacturing environments. We have a range of tests to detect the presence of pathogens in food samples. Testing is performed by PCR, giving you negative results as quickly as next-day*, giving you peace-of-mind.

Our routinely analysed pathogens are listed below:

  • Listeria species including Listeria monocytogenes
  • Salmonella
  • Top 7 STEC E. coli (incl. E.coli O157)
  • Cronobacter
  • Vibrio species (incl. V.cholerae, V.parahaemolyticus and V.vulnificus)

*If received at the laboratory by 4:30pm.

Shelf-Life, Challenge Testing and Bespoke Testing

Do you have a project to demonstrate shelf-life, antimicrobial efficacy, or other bespoke testing project you would like to do? Get started by discussing it with our knowledgeable Micro Client Service Managers.

Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis

We offer a full range of food microbiology testing options for hemp products, and we have a number of IANZ accredited European Pharmacopoeia methods to meet your medicinal cannabis needs. We also offer comprehensive chemistry and residue testing for cannabis. More information can be found here

  • European Pharmacopoeia tests:
  • Bile-tolerant Gram-negative bacteria
  • Salmonella
  • Aerobic plate count
  • Yeast & mould
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • E. coli
  • Candida albicans


We offer a wide range of testing options suited for beverage products (including bottled water). Talk to our friendly Micro Client Service Managers about your testing and detection limit needs today.

Specific beverage tests include (but are not limited to):

  • Aerobic Plate Count (APC) or Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC)
  • Aciduric Plate Count
  • Yeast and mould
  • Xerophilic fungi
  • Total coliforms, Faecal coliforms and E. coli
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Sulphite reducing clostridia
  • Faecal streptococci
  • Clostridium perfringens

Hygiene and Environmental Monitoring

In the food industry, monitoring cleaning efficacy through environmental swab testing is an essential part of the production process, and can be used to validate critical control points identified in a HACCP. Food and beverage production and distribution is complex with many factors involved in manufacture, packaging, and transport. Preparation, processing, and handling areas can easily be contaminated if not cleaned and sanitised. Testing for appropriate target organisms helps you monitor your processes.

We offer a range of hygiene monitoring options to suit your HACCP or RMP needs; swab testing is available for all our Quality Indicator and Pathogen tests, and we also have options for air quality monitoring using air settle plates.

All kits and media for this testing can be provided as part of our service.

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In addition to our routine food microbiological testing, we have a number of tests available specifically for the honey sector, including; 

  • Osmophilic yeast
  • Staphylococcus aureus (presence/absence)
  • American Foulbrood (by PCR)
  • Manuka DNA (by PCR)

National Microbiological Database (NMD) Testing

As a MPI Recognised Laboratory (RLP), Hill Labs is also an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited provider for the National Microbiological Database (NMD) programme. The NMD programme provides ongoing monitoring of microbiological process control across red meat and poultry industry participants. NMD testing is performed via petrifilm for a range of sample types and Assurance GDS MPX Top 7 STEC (incl. E.coli O157). We are also a provider of Level 2 Sampler services.

Sampler Training

Ensuring a sample is collected correctly is critically important to the accuracy and relevance of your results. Inappropriate sampling methodology and sample treatment can result in erroneous results and cause lost time, or worse, create significant risk within your food safety programme. Hill Labs offers dedicated sampler training (Christchurch only) to give our clients confidence that they are taking water and environmental samples correctly. 

Latest Stories

Introducing Murray Eichler - Senior Lab Technician

"I’ve been with Hill Labs for almost 24 years now, ever since I joined as a lab technician in the environmental organics section back in July 2000. My journey to Hill Labs was influenced by my upbringing on a dairy farm and my interest in science. After completing a science course at Wintec, I found my way to Hill Labs and I’ve stayed here all this time thanks mainly to the variety of the work that we get to do."
  15 May 2024

Introducing Dana Wildeboer - HR Support and Recruitment Advisor

“I started with Hill Labs 29 years ago back in 1995 when I was looking for my first job out of high school. What attracted me to the company was their reputation, they were a small but well known local business in Cambridge. Over the years I’ve performed a variety of business support roles – Receptionist, Office Manager, Induction Officer, Client Services Coordinator, HR Administrator and now my current role which is part time in the Human Resources team as Hill Labs’ HR Support and Recruitment Advisor."
  15 May 2024

Introducing Graham Corban - Client Service Manager for Key Accounts

“Come October this year, I’ve been with Hill Labs for 30 years. Personally, there are so many stand out moments during my career but one of the most significant has been the opportunity to help grow the organics section in the lab, being part of the clean-up of the old Fruitgrowers’ Chemical Company DDT plant in Mapua, and helping to grow the methamphetamine testing service which grew from nothing to being a very significant contributor to our business at one stage."
  15 May 2024

What our customers have to say

"We've always found them to be responsive in getting results back and giving advice on problems we might be facing."

Andrew Hutchinson, Technical Manager, Turners & Growers

"We strongly recommend Hill Labs as a sound testing service provider to the honey industry."

Nick Walker, Technical Manager, Egmont Honey

"Their sample registration system has made things simple and seamless - collect, scan and send!"

Mathew Bannister, Compliance Manager, First Fresh New Zealand


As a New Zealand accredited laboratory by International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ), Hill Labs' commitment to quality is tantamount to our overall operating philosophy. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work.