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Costs of in house laboratory?


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#1 PatGear

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:34 PM

At this moment we are outsourcing all our microbiological analysis. Mainly Salmonella and total plate count. We don't have any equipment at this moment to perform any analysis ourselves.

Next week though, I'm having a job interview with a candidate with a lot of experience in microbological analysis.

 

Would it be economically interesting to invest in inhouse laboratory equipment and perform the analysis ourselves? I don't have any idea of the costs of something like that. Annual costs of current Salmonella analysis are about 16.000 euros per year. Total plate count about 800,-.


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#2 Brendar1

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 08:46 PM

Hello,

I am in the United States but I just did a price comparison on in house testing using Hygiena products and the cost difference was substantial enough for us to switch over.  We will still send out for a quarterly validation test of a program, but overall the combination in house testing is well worth the price as far as we can tell.

 

You may need to do a price comparison of products out there and see what works for you best.

 

 


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#3 Charles.C

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 01:57 AM

At this moment we are outsourcing all our microbiological analysis. Mainly Salmonella and total plate count. We don't have any equipment at this moment to perform any analysis ourselves.

Next week though, I'm having a job interview with a candidate with a lot of experience in microbological analysis.

 

Would it be economically interesting to invest in inhouse laboratory equipment and perform the analysis ourselves? I don't have any idea of the costs of something like that. Annual costs of current Salmonella analysis are about 16.000 euros per year. Total plate count about 800,-.

 

Hi Pat,

 

There are a whole range of factors potentially involved. Not just equipment.

 

eg product itself, product volume, intended use of data, available people, lab certification, local factory legalities, customer acceptance.

 

Related queries have come up here before if you don't mind a little searching.


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#4 liberator

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:39 PM

If you currently have nothing in a way of a microbiological lab then there will be some costs associated with setting one up. However plate count is not too difficult to set up compared to salmonella testing. Best using something like 3M Aerobic plates then you won't have to worry about media preparation for the plate but you will still need a diluent. You'll need scales to measure out the product for testing to prepare the dilutions. Tests tubes & caps  vortex mixer, stomacher, incubator, plate count reader/magnifier, pipettes etc. I would be concerned about setting up salmonella testing.

 

I certainly wouldn't want to be setting up salmonella testing on site and would prefer to leave that to the experts. I think the costs of setting up a pathogen lab would far outweigh outsourcing that testing. There are some rapid salmonella test kits out in the market but again - it will depend on your intention - is it for in house monitoring or product clearance and release? What do your customers require? Our customers require us to provide pathogen results that come from a qualified and certified laboratory so we don't do it in house.


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#5 BrummyJim

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:14 AM

Hi PatGear,

 

The challenges of setting up a pathogens lab are many, and I would strongly advise against it. As liberator says, most customers require you to be ISO17025, which can be challenging.

  • Salmonella is not an easy bug to isolate and identify/speciate. 
  • When designing a lab, you need to be very careful with the layout and product flow.
  • You'll probably need to buy in bulk so be aware of shelf life issues.
  • You will need multiple incubators each set at different temperatures.
  • You will need to hold suitable bacteria to demonstrate that you can identify positive as well as negative results. This will be held in a separate chiller.
  • You may require a licence to hold this bacteria (live listeria)
  • The lab will probably need to be licenced
  • You will need to be involved in ring testing.
  • The lab must be separate from the food production areas.

This is off the top of my head from working in a commercial lab. There will be more challenges such as 7 day working. My view is that it's worth 16,000 euros not to do it internally.


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#6 PatGear

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 09:24 AM

Thank you all for your input! Your answers have convinced me, I think we have to leave it to the experts here ;-)


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#7 Ryan M.

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 12:54 AM

As others have said, I'd advise against setting up pathogen testing in-house.  I looked at this for our lab and really the cost difference is insignificant...we would save about a $1 a test and do about 100 tests a month.  Not worth the risk to bring that in-house.

 

The TPC testing is easy to do in-house and relatively cheap.   The biggest challenge is setting up a "clean" area to do the plating. The equipment is relatively cheap with your largest expense being an incubator.  You should definitely look at your local requirements for lab certification (if needed) and what your customers would accept.

 

Good luck!


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#8 Charles.C

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 02:13 AM

I agree with many/most of the negative comments in previous posts but I can add a few "in-house positive factors" from my own experience. These comments might be particularly relevant where -

 

(1) One detection of  X in a finished Lot at destination represents a potential Lot rejection (ie Total Value Loss). For example Salmonella.

(2) Product(s) are high value.

(3) Products are known to be vulnerable to (low level) contamination due, for example, to raw materials / processing. In this case directed sampling / actual sample numbers are important.

(4) Detection is known to be “difficult”.

 

For the above, competent in-house labs may offer –

 

(a) Potential capability to handle more samples at a comparable cost.

(b) Capability to readily monitor raw materials/process in depth.

(c) Capability to be (hopefully) readily self-evaluated for accuracy/trustworthiness.

 

One caveat to (a-c) is that some external labs may have invested in equipment which offers superior detection capabilities to those achievable by in-house facilities so as to match regulatory/customer requirements. It is important to know all such details where comparisons are involved.


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C





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