As a food company, you put a lot of time and thought into your supplier selection as well as your manufacturing practices to ensure safe products for your consumers. The same effort should be put into the selection of a contract laboratory. They should not only be a vendor, but a trusted partner in food safety for your business.
Here are some helpful tips on how to choose a perfect laboratory partner for your business:
One basic requirement for most companies looking for a laboratory is ISO 17025 Accreditation. As most contract laboratories are ISO 17025 Accredited, it makes it an easy box to check. Seems simple, right?
Well, think again as this is not as simple as it may look at first glance. Laboratories may be accredited; however, you will need to take a deeper look because many are only accredited for specific methods. They are likely not accredited for their entire portfolio.
The big one that everyone looks for is the ISO Accreditation, but you should look beyond that. Gain an understanding of what Quality Management Systems they have in place. And another check is to see if they participate in a Proficiency Test program.
As we all know, there can be many complexities to food products and ingredients. A challenge to be aware of is to not only make sure the method is accredited, as mentioned above, but that the method has been validated for your product.
Open Door Policy
Any laboratory that you are considering should have an open-door policy where you, the customer or potential customer, are welcome to visit and tour the facility or are open to an audit.
Trained & Knowledgeable Staff
What you should be on the lookout for is if the technician that is running the analyses on your samples is trained and experienced on that method and matrix. If there is any issue, there should be technical experts on staff to troubleshoot and ensure you are receiving accurate results.
Nobody wants to be found in a crisis, but it happens. While you do everything to prevent an occurrence, if one does happen, you need to be prepared. Moreover, an integral part of your preparedness is the reliability of your laboratory partner during a crisis.
This seems like another basic requirement, but it is one not to be assumed or overlooked. Before you begin working together in any capacity, understand their policies surrounding your information. Whether it be your sample and product information including the results or your personal contact and business information.
The laboratory you select should treat your samples with urgency and begin processing as soon as they receive them. You should expect to have results back to you in a timely manner that meets your business needs. Turnaround times should be communicated to you ahead of time and the quoted dates should be honored. And cost is obviously an important criterion but should never be the only criteria. Analytical testing is not a commodity.
There are many laboratories that attempt to be all things to all people, you want a partner with expertise and a focus on food and beverage.
Your laboratory should be adapting to meet new products and regulatory changes in requirements for testing and labelling. Evaluation of new methods and instruments should be scheduled regularly to ensure the most efficient and effective processing of your samples.
Overall, the above tips all lead to trust. Using these tips as a guide for a contract laboratory will direct you to a food safety partner that you can trust to verify your products are safe.
NQAC Dublin has been supporting trusted brands worldwide for 30 years. If you need a trusted laboratory partner to support your business, we welcome the opportunity. Let us know how we can help, find our services and contact us at: NQACDublin.com.