The accuracy and consistency of grain testing results is very important. Consequently, UK Flour Millers and all its members take testing very seriously and have invested heavily in both equipment and training to ensure correct standards of analysis and the highest level of proficiency.
The UK Flour Millers intake proficiency scheme, which helps to establish and maintain common standards of wheat testing at flour mills, requires participants to follow established procedures in their laboratories, with methods of analysis traceable to reference methods where appropriate. It also requires participants to reach a standard of proficiency, independently assessed by Campden BRI on the basis of monthly tests. It is this measure of proficiency that differentiates the UK Flour Millers scheme from others.
To assess proficiency, participating laboratories analyse one hard and/or one soft wheat sample (a set) per month, supplied by Campden BRI. Individual results are judged against the reference values for each sample, with proficiency measured by the ability to match those reference standards. Testing proficiency is assessed for all participants in the UK Flour Millers scheme; currently it covers protein, moisture and Hagberg falling number.
Laboratories may, if they wish, apply for accreditation. The scope of intake tests for accreditation exceeds other schemes in operation, and currently includes: protein, moisture, Hagberg falling number, screenings, hardness, hectolitre weight, gluten washing and visual examination. To achieve accreditation, two criteria need to be met: (1) laboratories must meet minimum performance standards, i.e. proficiency testing as above (2) laboratories must demonstrate by independent verification, via third party audit (such as ISO or EFSIS), that the processes required under the scheme are observed. Laboratories that consistently fail to meet minimum performance criteria will lose their accreditation to the scheme. Performance and accreditation status are reviewed on a six-monthly basis.
Performance assessment on a monthly basis.
Provision of monthly updated control charts that show variation of results from the established value. This enables anomalous performance to be investigated thereby limiting prolonged deviation.
Key guidance on factors that can influence test performance is available for scheme members.
Recognised accreditation if applied for and achieved. The UK Flour Millers scheme is currently the only scheme that requires both good laboratory standards and proof of good performance.
The scheme for intake proficiency and accreditation, which is widely recognised as one of the most demanding currently available for grain intake laboratories, is now open to non-UK Flour Millers members. Optionally, participation can be for proficiency testing only. Further details can be obtained by contacting Joe Brennan.