Sampling and Monitoring

This course in the Laboratory of Food Microbiology's distance learning programme is meant to provide good awareness of the concepts and terminology underlying specific aspects of food safety management.

It is an extensive introduction into sampling and monitoring for microbiological food safety. It covers: sampling plans, accuracy and/or uncertainty, basic statistics underlying enumeration, the use of most probable number (MPN), and effect of heterogeneously distributed contamination. Monitoring, verification and validation relating to both product and process are also discussed.

Who is this e-learning course for?

The table below shows to whom the course should be of interest to and what the level of relevance for each group might be. This however, is only an indication and should not deter anyone interested in issues dealing with Sampling and Monitoring related to food industry, food research and/or food inspection, from participating.


Learning objectives

After completing this course the participant will be able to:

  • Apply elementary statistical techniques to the field of food microbiology;
  • Calculate the reliability of different sampling plans;
  • Take account of general uncertainties (and specifically those associated with Most Probable Number);
  • Take account of heterogeneous (vs. homogeneous) contamination; 
  • Understand the application of sampling as part of food safety assurance.

Entry requirements



There are no official entry requirements. However, we expect that participants have a BSc degree in Food Science, Food Processing or Food Technology, or equivalent professional experience.

Level and duration

The general level of this course is rated at two (2- intermediate) and in terms of mathematical skills required, it is rated at three (3) on a scale of 1 (basic) to 3 (advanced). The estimated time required to complete this course is eighteen hours or less depending on individual’s level of statistics and technical knowledge. Basic skills in Excel are a prerequisite to complete some of the exercises.

Teaching method

The course consists of background materials, with assignments at certain points in the self-running presentation. The presentation is interactive allowing immediate feedback facilitating continuous assessment as you advance. The assignments concern sampling and monitoring, and applying statistical tools in food microbiology. If you are conversant with the basic concepts of statistics and can confidently apply this knowledge in solving problems, you may skip chapter 2 of the course. To refresh your knowledge of statistics and decide if you could skip this, a test has been prepared in the assignment section. The assignment results are graded; the participant can review his/her grades and compare with averages. For easy reading and archiving purposes, the theory is available in pdf format as well.

Relevance for target group Sampling and Monitoring

Relevance for target group Sampling and Monitoring

Click image left to view.