Products Quality Controls : Methods and Standards

Ensuring the quality of products is essential for their compliance and safety. Quality controls, carried out at different stages of production, involve various actors and methods to ensure high standards and meet the legal requirements as well as those of customers.

What is product quality control ?

Product quality control consists of a series of assessments to ensure that products manufactured or imported meet the standards and criteria established in advance. This process is crucial to ensure their quality, safety and efficiency.

It can be implemented at various stages of production, from receiving the raw materials to shipping the finished product. Control involves several actors, including the manufacturer, the customer, independent bodies or competent authorities.

Quality control varies according to the specific aspects to be evaluated and the methods used. It is generally divided into two approaches : product inspection and testing. The inspection involves the visual and physical examination of a product sample directly at the place of production, based on criteria such as appearance, structure, functionality, and others. Product testing, on the other hand, involves checking the conformity of a product to specific standards or regulations in a controlled setting, such as a certified laboratory.

Adopting product quality control offers many benefits for manufacturers. This ensures product quality, reduces the risk of defective or hazardous products, avoids product recalls and reputational damage, prevents delivery delays, and optimizes quality control resources.

Who covers product inspections ?

Product inspections are essential to ensure quality and compliance. Various actors are responsible for these inspections, depending on the type of product, the production phase, the country of origin or destination, as well as the specific requirements of customers or suppliers. The main stakeholders include the manufacturer, the customer, third-party organizations and the competent authorities.

The manufacturer, who is at the origin of the production of the products, can carry out internal inspections within its quality management system. To ensure compliance with external standards and regulations, it may also use third-party organizations.

The customer, the purchaser of the products, has the possibility to carry out inspections either directly at the supplier or at the time of delivery. Like the manufacturer, the customer can use the services of third-party organizations to ensure the quality of the products received or shipped.

A third-party organisation acts as an independent entity offering inspections, certifications or product tests. It may be the manufacturer or the customer, or even a competent authority that mandates him to carry out these inspections according to specific criteria, providing certificates of conformity or inspection reports.

A competent authority, which may represent a government, a specific region, an industrial sector or an organisation, has the power to impose product inspections for reasons of safety, public health, environment or trade regulation. These inspections may be mandatory, random or targeted, to ensure compliance with standards and regulations.

Which products require quality control ?

All manufactured or imported items must undergo quality control to ensure compliance with standards, safety and efficiency. Some types of products, however, are subject to stricter quality criteria because of their nature, intended use, destination and specific regulatory framework. In particular, three broad categories require special attention to quality control : food, cosmetics and medical products.

Food products

Intended for human or animal consumption, food products include foods, beverages, food supplements, additives, flavourings and dyes. Scrupulous quality control is essential for these products to ensure their safety, nutritional value, traceability and compliance with health standards, as well as national and international regulations. Analyses carried out to control the quality of food products may include physical, chemical, microbiological and sensory tests, adapted to the specific attributes to be evaluated.

Cosmetic products

These items, designed to be applied to the human body in order to clean, protect, perfume or change the appearance, include skin care, makeup, hair products, shaving and perfumery. To ensure their effectiveness, stability, safety and compliance with quality standards and regulations in force, cosmetic products go through careful quality control. This process may involve physicochemical, microbiological, toxicological or clinical analyses, depending on the particular characteristics to be verified.

Medical products

Medical products, intended to be used for medical, therapeutic or diagnostic purposes in humans or animals, include drugs, medical devices, blood products, vaccines and biologics. Strict quality control is imperative for these products to ensure their quality, safety, effectiveness and compliance with applicable standards and regulations. The quality control process for medical products may include physical, chemical, biological, pharmacological or immunological tests, depending on the properties to be examined.

What quality criteria are evaluated during the checks ?

Quality criteria define the essential characteristics or requirements that products must meet to be considered compliant and of high performance. These criteria can be established by customers, suppliers, current regulations or industry standards. They will vary according to the type, use and destination of the product, and can be categorized into four groups : physical, chemical, biological and sensory.

Physical criteria

These criteria relate to physical properties such as size, weight, color, and texture of the product. They check the general appearance, construction and functionality of the product, and are measured by specific instruments such as scales and spectrophotometers.

Chemical criteria

The chemical criteria analyze the composition of the products, namely their elements and constituent substances. They are used to assess product quality, purity and safety through chemical analysis techniques such as chromatography and spectroscopy.

Biological criteria

Regarding biological aspects, these criteria examine the organisms or cells present in the products or their impact on them. Through methods such as cell culture or molecular biology, they make it possible to judge the effectiveness and safety of products.

Sensory criteria

Sensory criteria assess how a product feels, such as taste or smell. Using sensory tests, they measure user acceptability and satisfaction, directly affecting their loyalty and trust in the product.

How to get quality control of your products ?

To guarantee the quality of your products, various strategies are available, adapted according to the type of product, the level of production, the budget, and the requirements of customers or suppliers. The main options are :

  • Internal Quality Control : Inspects products based on the standards and procedures of your own quality management system. This method allows complete control of the process, reduces costs and saves time. However, it requires specific skills, adequate equipment, sufficient resources, and the guarantee of an objective and impartial inspection.
  • External quality control : Use an independent third-party entity to review products according to external standards and regulations. This approach increases credibility and confidence in your products and ensures compliance with customer or supplier expectations. Nevertheless, it entails additional costs, longer lead times and a partial loss of control over the quality process.
  • Statistical quality control : Use mathematical and statistical methods to analyze product quality through representative samples. This technique helps to identify quality variations, anticipate defects and improve the production process. However, it requires specific expertise, adapted tools, and the establishment of suitable quality parameters and thresholds.

To select the most appropriate approach, it is suggested to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each method, clearly define your objectives and quality criteria, consult stakeholders, and comply with current standards and regulations.

Why are product quality checks carried out before shipment ?

Carrying out quality checks on products before they are shipped has many benefits for both manufacturers and consumers. These audits are critical for several reasons :

  • Ensure product compliance : These controls verify that products meet the standards or requirements defined by customers, suppliers, or regulations. Thus, they prevent disputes, avoid penalties or penalties due to non-compliant products.
  • Ensure product safety : They identify and remove defective, dangerous or counterfeit products, reducing health, safety or environmental risks. This helps protect consumers, prevents product recalls and reduces legal risks.
  • Improve product performance : These controls help evaluate and improve product quality, reliability and longevity, meeting customer expectations, building loyalty and providing a competitive advantage.
  • Optimize the manufacturing process : They detect and correct quality problems early on, preventing their spread to the entire batch or production line. This reduces costs, waste, returns and rework.
  • Facilitate the import process : Controls ensure that products comply with the standards and regulations of the country of destination, simplifying customs clearance, reducing delays, blockages or rejections at the border, and complying with legal obligations.

What happens if my products do not comply with quality control ?

Non-compliance with quality control of your products can have multiple adverse consequences, impacting your reputation, revenue and legal liability. Key impacts include :

  • Refusal of delivery : When products do not meet the expectations or requirements of customers, they may refuse to accept or settle them. You would then be obliged to bear the costs of return, repair, or replacement, in addition to possible contractual penalties.
  • Product recall : In the event of a defect or risk to health, safety or the environment, you must conduct a recall with consumers, according to the laws in force. This entails costs related to the removal, destruction, or compliance of the products, not to mention potential damages.
  • Administrative sanctions : If your products violate the standards or regulations of the destination country, the authorities may impose sanctions on you. This can include increased fines, taxes or customs duties, or even the seizure or destruction of your products.
  • Legal sanctions : If a defective product causes damage to others, you may face civil or criminal liability proceedings, requiring compensation for the victim or leading to fines, imprisonment or prohibition.

To prevent these risks, ensure the conformity of your products before sending them, by performing adequate quality controls. Yvea, our platform, connects you to qualified and certified partners able to perform these checks at competitive rates.