This routine procedure is applied regularly in each laboratory performing colony counts. It provides criteria for the acceptability of differences between the results from parallel plates and subsequent dilution steps, as follows.
The results (colony counts) obtained from parallel plates are compared with tabulated limits for given colony counts. If these limits are exceeded, a technical problem when performing the parallel determinations may be indicated.
The results (sums of colony counts) of two parallel plates of two subsequent 10-fold dilution steps are compared with tabulated limits for given sums of colony counts. If these limits are exceeded, a technical problem when performing the dilutions may be indicated.
If the limits mentioned above are exceeded in more cases than expected, this indicates that the test procedure lacks reliability.