A reliable method to produce proficiency samples containing known numbers of Trichinella spiralis cysts for use in quality assurance systems for Trichinella digestion tests was developed and validated. A filtrate containing Trichinella cysts was produced by homogenizing and filtering the muscles of an experimentally infected rat. Using a stereomicroscope and micropipette, intact cysts were removed from the filtrate and were transferred onto an agar substrate to allow accurate counting and subsequent transfer into a sample matrix. The proficiency sample matrix consisted of 20-g balls of lean ground beef and was combined with 80 g of a Trichinella-free muscle tissue to obtain the required 100-g sample weight for the assay. The mean overall larval recovery from 404 proficiency samples was 93.0%. Larval recoveries ≥95, 85, and 75% occurred in 52.4, 84.4, and 94.3%, respectively, of the 404 samples tested. Results indicated that, after a short training period, technicians with no prior experience in digestion techniques performed as well as experienced technicians. The maximum shelf life of proficiency samples was not determined but was at least 3 weeks. Validation data were used to develop panels composed of proficiency samples prepared as described above and to establish guidelines for the interpretation of proficiency panel results.
† Present address: Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2Wl.