Cooking instructions laboratory celebrates audit success

19 March 2024

Leatherhead Food Research’s cooking instructions laboratory has maintained its accreditation against ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in an annual audit by The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Cooking Instructions UKAS Accreditation | Leatherhead Food Research

The ISO standard describes general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. Factors including sampling, equipment, validation, procedures, and suitability of facilities were assessed by UKAS, with no findings reported.

Leatherhead’s dedicated cooking instructions team handles around 15,000 cooking trials each year. Services include verification (where customers’ existing cooking instructions are tested to ensure they achieve a safe temperature and time combination) and generation (experimental testing to determine the optimal cooking method, prior to verification).

George Chappell, Cooking Instructions Project Manager, says a science-led approach helps achieve the optimal balance between microbiological safety and product quality:

“Cooking instructions should consistently result in a safe, ready-to-eat product. Our laboratory enables this important requirement to be achieved and independently validated, and the UKAS accreditation focuses on this. Naturally, consumer enjoyment is a high priority too, so we also focus on achieving the desired sensory characteristics, including taste, appearance, and texture. Sometimes this means adapting time-and-temperature combinations to deliver the best outcome.”

The standard time-and-temperature combination for cooked food defined by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is 70°C for two minutes. However alternatives are also safe, such as holding 75°C for 30 seconds or 60°C for 45 minutes.

“Our cooking instructions laboratory is essentially a suite of kitchens with domestic cooking equipment that we verify for performance to use for scientific testing,” George explains. “Equipment ranges from air fryers and microwave ovens to traditional ovens, hobs, grills, and deep fat fryers. We conduct multiple cooking trials to achieve the necessary safety parameters and desired sensory characteristics. We were the first UK cooking instructions laboratory to receive UKAS accreditation, and the recent audit shows our standards remain high.”

Leatherhead’s UKAS accredited testing laboratory (no. 9365) status covers: cooking instructions testing (microwave oven, gas and electric thermal oven, electric fan oven, gas and electric hob, gas and electric grill, deep fat fryer, air fryer, defrost) and in cook temperature measuring techniques.

Find out more about Leatherhead’s cooking instructions services here or contact the team to discuss your requirements [email protected].

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