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The Importance of Providing Estimates for Analytical Testing

Companies don’t have time to spare when it comes to analytical testing results. In most cases, they are working within tight deadlines and need to meet critical milestones to maintain production schedules, launch a new product, or support their R&D processes. This is when time becomes something more than money. Time is a variable that works for you or against you. For food testing with Medallion Labs, you can save time by providing clear, concise, and complete sample descriptions as well as expected levels for each test when submitting samples for analytical testing.

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Accurate analytical food testing demands detailed sample descriptions and expected levels.

Medallion Labs validates measurements and assesses multiple aspects of food products to a seemingly infinite — and highly accurate — degree. We rely on our customer’s knowledge of their products to provide us with quality sample descriptions and expected levels for the assays they are requesting.

Information that may seem obvious or unnecessary can significantly impact the analytical test procedures — particularly when testing supplements. When creating expected levels for analytical testing of supplements or other food items, it’s recommended that customers be complete in writing the details. Failing to do so can reduce test accuracy and result in the need to retest which often causes results to report late. In some cases, incomplete descriptions can even result in damage to the testing equipment.

Here’s a scenario in which incomplete details negatively impacted the test results and the reporting schedule.

  • Client submits a sample and description to determine total fat.
  • Description does not denote that the sample contains sorbic acid.
  • Medallion Labs uses the Fat by Gravimetric Test.
  • Results show a higher percentage of fat than anticipated in the expected levels.
  • Medallion Labs retests to verify results.
  • Results are confirmed.
  • The existence of sorbic acid in the sample is revealed, making it incompatible with the Fat by Gravimetric Test.
  • Medallion Labs modifies the testing method to achieve accurate results.

While the objective is achieved, the timeline for testing and reporting results was doubled.

As demonstrated in this scenario, the omission of one seemingly minor detail distorted results and had adverse effects on the entire process.

How to provide complete sample descriptions and expected levels.

Providing the expected levels is not always enough to provide the full picture of the sample being tested. Medallion Labs doesn’t require the entire provenance for each sample ingredient, but we do request more information than “White Powder” or “Sample H12B.”

Ideally, an accurate expected level should be coupled with a detailed sample description.

Quick Tips for Detailed Descriptions.

Raw Materials and Ingredients: Please do not list wheat if the ingredient is hard white wheat. While seemingly subtle, this detail makes a significant difference, especially when testing for Pesticides.

Finished Products: Understanding the total product can make a difference in some cases. For example, instead of granola bar, write oat-based cranberry granola bar. The major components of the finished products provide us with the details we need in order to choose the appropriate test variation or reach out for additional clarification, especially when testing for Moisture.

Supplements: Include an ingredients list with any supplement samples. Supplements contain a variety of ingredients that can dictate the appropriate test method or sample weight, especially when testing for Vitamins and Minerals.

Losing time isn’t the only downside of inaccurate sample descriptions and expected levels.

Many of the Medallion Labs tests have small control ranges which require the use of specific sample weights depending on the expected levels. Providing accurate sample descriptions and expected levels ensures we hit that range with speed and accuracy.

Protecting the integrity of the testing equipment can also be dependent on an accurate sample description and the expected level provided. If a sample is dramatically different from what we guess it might be, it could cause harm to the instruments used to test it. The damage may not always be obvious or apparent right away, meaning it could skew your results and the results of every other customer with samples running on that same equipment.

What other details should be included with expected levels for analytical tests?

As a rule of thumb, assume little and add details liberally. Even when it comes to something as basic as units. Medallion Labs recommends defining the units for each expected level provided. For example, the expected level could be g/100g, grams per serving (we need to know the serving size), or percent daily value. Without the inclusion of the unit, the estimate is unusable.

In situations where you are uncertain about the expected levels, let us know. Informing Medallion Labs that you don’t know can allow us to determine the best method to analyze a sample.

Let’s make the first time the best time for analytical testing.

We are committed to being your partner; providing quality and timely results using industry-leading standards to meet and exceed your expectations. Your partnership matters. By providing quality sample descriptions and well-defined expected levels we can provide the best possible results in the timeliest manner possible. If you have questions about providing quality sample descriptions and expected levels along with your sample, please reach out to Medallion Labs directly. We are here to help!

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