Ice – Treated

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Total Coliform, E. coli and HPC

Treated ice

200 mL

Sterile plastic bag with wire closure

Submission and Collection Notes


Collection information: Ensure all materials required for sample collection are available prior to collection including sterile plastic sample bags with round wire closure, test requisition and sterile collection device (if required).

  • Complete the required information on the requisition.  The sample will not be tested if all of the required information is not complete or accurate when received at the laboratory.
  • Label sample bag(s) with a unique identifier that matches the identifier on the requisition.
  • Wash hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly prior to taking the sample.
  • Collect representative ice samples using either the collection device located in the freezer unit or another sterile collection device.  Use aseptic technique at all stages of sample collection. Failure to do so may compromise the test results.
  • Ensure the sample bag is properly secured to prevent sample leakage.

To order collection kits or other PHO laboratory supplies complete the Requisition For Containers and Supplies. The form should be faxed to the PHO laboratory Toronto fax number listed on the Requisition For Containers and Supplies or your local PHO laboratory.


Minimum volume required: Enough ice to fill a 200 mL collection bottle when sample is melted.  Note:  Do not submit melted ice.  PHOL will melt the ice sample in a controlled manner when preparing it for testing.

Timing of Specimen Collection

Ensure adequate time to collect and transport the sample to the laboratory. It must be tested within 48 hours of collection.


Samples will not be tested if the acceptance criteria are not met. Refer to the Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.

Storage and Transport

Retain a copy of the completed requisition. Specimens should be stored at 2-8 °C following collection and shipped to PHO laboratory inside insulated containers or in a cooler. Pack with frozen ice packs. Samples must be tested within 48 hours of collection. 

Special Instructions

This test is only offered to public health unit clients.

Instructions For Official Agencies Submitting Water Samples to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory provides step by step instructions for completing the documentation and submitting/relinquishing the sample. For legal samples, the chain of custody must be complete when the sample is received at the laboratory (Refer to Instructions For Official Agencies Submitting Water Samples to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory).

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Samples are only accepted at the laboratory Monday – Thursday during regular operating hours. For submission around statutory holidays, refer to PHO laboratory holiday schedule. Please contact the PHO laboratory Customer Service Centre prior to the submission of samples that will be received outside of these hours.

The turnaround time is up to 4 days for Total Coliform and E. coli, up to 5 days for HPC.

STAT and Critical Samples Testing

Please contact the PHO laboratory Customer Service Centre prior to the submission of samples that will be received outside of regular operating hours or the PHO Laboratory Duty Officer at (416) 605-3113 if outside of Customer Service's hours. 

Samples of an urgent nature (e.g., STAT) will be processed and read with no undue delay.

Test Methods

Ice samples are tested by the Membrane Filtration method modified from MECP E3407: Membrane Filtration Method Using DC Agar for the Simultaneous Detection and Enumeration of Total Coliforms and Escherichia coli in Drinking Water for the microbiological indicators Total Coliform (TC) and Escherichia coli (E. coli) and the Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) is tested by the Spread Plate method modified from MECP E3408: he Spread Plate Method for the Enumeration of Aerobic, Heterotrophic Bacteria in Drinking Water.

By submitting a sample with a PHO Laboratory requisition, the submitter accepts Public Health Ontario’s methodology.


Results are reported to the submitter as indicated on the requisition.

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Updated 20 July 2020