When I joined campus to study industrial microbiology and biotechnology, I had no idea of where that would lead me. I knew I would end up in a lab somewhere but doing what exactly? I asked. Most of my free time as a freshman I kept browsing with the query: “jobs for industrial microbiologists and biotechnologists in Kenya” and this would often list a number of quality assurance jobs. I became intrigued to understand quality assurance and for my internship I applied at the Kenya Bureau of Standards and was accepted as a Microbiology quality analyst. Later on I worked as the head of quality assurance in a water bottling startup company.
So what is the role of microbiology in quality assurance?
Quality assurance (QA) is the total process whereby the quality of laboratory reports can be guaranteed. The term quality control covers that part of QA, which primarily concerns the control of errors in the performance of tests and verification of test results. All materials, equipment and procedures must be adequately controlled.
For microbiology the path to a result is time consuming, Microbiologists capture samples, incubate them for a period of time, then read and record results. If samples are out of specification, the lab performs an investigation and root cause analysis as part of good manufacturing practices. As a strategic component of the enterprise, the lab must continually search for innovative tools and techniques to enhance their efficiency and optimize the resources associated with these critical tests.
Microbiology quality assurance is a vital role in ensuring that consumables such as foods, animal feeds and medical products are safe for consumption. It is a great and satisfying job despite the opportunities being very limited especially in Africa.