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Will it be more economical to build an In-house lab ?


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#1 chenyunl

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 04:31 PM

Hello Everyone,

 

We are a small food manufacturer, which has around 100 employees, making fully cooked product, so we send our product out for testing microbes. Here is what we are testing for each sample: 

 

ATP  APC $11.45
E.coli  $16.35
Listeria  $27.20
Salmonella  $26.05
So, total $81.05 per sample plus Courier Fee $18.45 each pick-up. 
 
If we had at least 1 sample pick-up per day, the cost would be $99.5 per day, which would be around $1990 per month for working five days a week. 
Our boss is thinking to make an in-house lab in order to save some money yearly. We are SQF level 2. Based on what I read, the in-house lab is not required to be certified. If the lab would be built, it would divide my current office into two, so it would be still separating from food processing area. However, is it really worth testing in-house? will it be saving a lot of money in the future ?   Please give me some suggestions. 
 
Thank you 
 
David 

Edited by Charles.C, 15 April 2020 - 08:08 PM.
edited (see Post 5)


#2 FSQA

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 04:52 PM

David,

 

The risks outweighs the benefit in most cases. Yes, having an in-house lab can be more cost effective, however, keep in mind once you have the lab in-house you will need to follow protocols and procedures.

 

This has been discussed several times on this forum, example:

https://www.ifsqn.co...use-laboratory/



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#3 SQFconsultant

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 04:56 PM

It would still be subject to inspection and there are some requirements for those doing the actual testing.

 

For a smaller company however I think you will find it better to continue sending samples out, as FSQA indicates there most certainly risks involved in having your own lab.

 

With that said you should consider looking into various labs to get some better pricing.


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Glenn Oster
 
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#4 zanorias

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 05:38 PM

You are sending a product sample to the lab to test for ATP?



#5 chenyunl

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 05:46 PM

You are sending a product sample to the lab to test for ATP?

Sorry, my mistake. It should be APC. We do ATP in house for sure.  



#6 zanorias

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 05:50 PM

Sorry, my mistake. It should be APC. We do ATP in house for sure.


I was wondering if that was the case, thanks :smile:

#7 MsMars

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 06:42 PM

David,

 

The risks outweighs the benefit in most cases. Yes, having an in-house lab can be more cost effective, however, keep in mind once you have the lab in-house you will need to follow protocols and procedures.

 

This has been discussed several times on this forum, example:

https://www.ifsqn.co...use-laboratory/

 

I too encourage you to read through the thread mentioned above.  You assume quite a bit of risk with in-house laboratories and the culture of potentially pathogenic bacteria, especially if it is located inside your facility near operations.  Salmonella testing is extremely difficult and resource-consuming for small labs.



#8 chenyunl

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 06:47 PM

I too encourage you to read through the thread mentioned above.  You assume quite a bit of risk with in-house laboratories and the culture of potentially pathogenic bacteria, especially if it is located inside your facility near operations.  Salmonella testing is extremely difficult and resource-consuming for small labs.

Thanks. I am pretty sure that they would split my office (appox 250 sft) and make an independent section to be the lab. The processing area is behind my office, which is just between a wall. 



#9 FSQA

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 07:26 PM

Thanks. I am pretty sure that they would split my office (appox 250 sft) and make an independent section to be the lab. The processing area is behind my office, which is just between a wall. 

 

Well it can be done, however, as mentioned above consider the risk of having culturing media and bacterial growth for testing purposes.

Even if this area is segregated from your operations, you will have to develop procedures (different air circulation/lab protocols/traffic+sample drop patterns/etc) which will cost you more at the end, as compared to sending it to an outside lab.



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#10 LesleySR

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 08:53 AM

Hi Chenyunl

 

Best of luck with your project & perhaps I can be of some assistance here?.

 

I used to manage a central testing laboratory which analysed samples for microbiology/ chemistry/pathogen and was staffed by 24 technicians, testing for 16 production sites across the UK. The site where the laboratory was located was lucky because the laboratory was at the bottom of a hill (meaning the water course flowed AWAY from production) and it was also a transport hub (meaning chilled samples could be brought to the site daily, along with routine foodstuffs FOC).  The laboratory was accredited to ISO17025 (there is a cost involved in this), but if it hadn’t been formally accredited, we would have been obliged to follow the principles of the standard to ensure accuracy of results (BRC mentions this & probably other standards as well?).  Maybe you could get hold of a copy of the ISO17025 standard to see what is involved?.

 

Having the laboratory on site was only economical because we cross-charged the other sites for conducting their testing & were able to purchase the reagents/media in bulk (reducing cost). Every year I was obliged to provide a cost comparison of our laboratory outgoings, including instrument calibration costs, media, chemicals, salaries plus revenue from other sites for conducting their testing and compare these to external testing costs. 

 

As I recall using our inhouse laboratory was cheaper by approximately £45K a year (across 16 sites) but this was primarily due to economies of scale when purchasing disposables/chemicals/media and deployment of staff.  Had this been a stand alone facility I’m certain it would have been cheaper to test externally.

But, if you can make it work for you financially that would be ideal, as so much information about microbiology & pathogens seems to have been lost because we are increasingly disconnected from our 3rd party laboratory service suppliers!.



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