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Somatic cell count (SCC) represents the total number of somatic cells in milk and is used as an indicator for udder health and milk quality worldwide. The current reference method for SCC, which is based on microscopy, has been described as challenging to work with. Hence, the objective of this work is to define the criteria for a reference method, map all available methods for determination of SCC and to recommend one or two candidates that could potentially be used as a new reference method. A feasibility study revealed that the current reference method is not fit for purpose. The results further indicated that automated microscopy, open and adjustable variants of flow and image cytometry, respectively, are potential candidates for a reference method. However, detailed protocols on how such methods could be used routinely for reference testing purposes do not yet exist. In a next step, such protocols need to be developed and subsequently proficiency and ring trial data are to be generated so that the actual performance of the methods can be determined.
Keywords: Somatic Cell Count, SCC, reference method, microscopy, flow cytometry, Differential Somatic Cell Count, feasibility study, milk testing parameter.