Laboratory testing of products to ensure compliance

Laboratory product testing plays an important role in assessing the quality, safety and performance of products before they are marketed. They are essential to ensure that products meet regulatory standards, current legislation and meet customer expectations.

What is a laboratory product test ?

A laboratory product test is a systematic approach to analyze and evaluate a product to confirm its quality, safety and effectiveness. This procedure is essential to ensure that the product complies with the standards and regulations specific to its field, thus meeting the expectations of customers and consumers.

This process can be applied at different points in the life cycle of a product, from its design to its release on the market. It covers various aspects, such as the analysis of components, raw materials, packaging, labelling and more. The objectives of laboratory product testing include :

  • Validation and release of production lots
  • Quality control and traceability of products
  • Detection and prevention of defects, non-conformities and risks
  • Optimization of product performance and efficiency
  • Support for innovation and new product development
  • Building customer trust and improving customer satisfaction

Laboratory product testing is carried out by specialized facilities equipped with competent personnel, suitable instruments and using proven methods to ensure reliable results. Laboratories can be integrated within the company or be external entities, such as Intertek, SGS or Bureau Veritas, offering analysis and testing services for a variety of sectors, including chemicals, cosmetics, medical devices and consumer goods, among others.

Why are laboratory tests essential for compliance ?

Laboratory testing is used to verify the conformity of products by ensuring that they comply with all standards and regulations applicable to their sector and region. These products quality controls ensure product safety, efficiency and performance while protecting consumer health and the environment.

By carrying out these tests, manufacturers, distributors and importers are able to :

  • Prove that their products comply with legal and regulatory obligations.
  • Acquire the necessary certifications and accreditations to market their items.
  • Avoid the risk of penalties such as fines, product recalls or sales bans.
  • Limit the risk of legal action or civil liability in case of product failure.
  • Improve their competitiveness and brand image.

In addition, laboratory tests are essential for compliance because they directly meet the expectations of customers and consumers regarding the quality and safety of products. In doing so, they contribute to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What types of product tests are performed in the laboratory ?

The testing of products in the laboratory varies according to the sector of activity concerned, the type of product, as well as the standards and regulations in force. However, these tests fall into three main categories : physico-chemical, microbiological and biological.

Physical and chemical tests

These tests are designed to examine the chemical composition and structure of products, as well as their purity, stability and physical properties. They are applied to raw materials, active substances, end products and packaging materials. These analyses use various methods, including chromatography, spectroscopy, titrimetry, among others. This category of testing ensures that products meet established quality criteria.

Microbiological testing

They make it possible to detect and quantify microorganisms in products or on their surface. These tests are essential for food, cosmetics, biological products and all those susceptible to microbial contamination. Methods of culture, isolation, identification and enumeration of microorganisms are used. The objective is to guarantee the sterility, conservation and safe use of the products.

Biological testing

Focusing on the interaction of products with biological systems, these tests assess the activity and toxicity of products, as well as their immunogenic potential or adverse effects. Applicable to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and certain chemicals, these tests use in vitro, in vivo and in silico approaches. Their purpose is to confirm the quality, safety and effectiveness of the products.

Which organizations offer laboratory testing ?

Different types of organizations offer laboratory testing services, equipped with the necessary technologies, skills and accreditations to analyze and test products. Their characteristics vary according to their structure, field of expertise and geographical coverage. Mainly, we distinguish :

Internal laboratories

Integrated within the companies producing or distributing the products, these laboratories are often located on the production site or in the immediate vicinity. Their main advantage is the reduction of costs and waiting times for tests, making it easier to communicate and monitor results. Their main disadvantage is the risk of bias or conflict of interest, in addition to the consequent need for human, material and training resources.

Internal laboratories must comply with industry standards and regulations and may be subject to external audits to validate their competence and compliance.

External laboratories

These independent laboratories of companies whose products are tested, often located far from production sites, can serve different customers. They ensure the independence, impartiality and reliability of test results, benefiting from advanced specialization and equipment. Their disadvantages include additional costs, extended deadlines, as well as the need for coordination and trust between the entities involved.

They are required to comply with the standards and regulations of their sector and must obtain accreditation from recognized bodies, guaranteeing their competence and compliance.

Accreditation bodies

Responsible for the evaluation and recognition of test laboratories, these bodies ensure that they adhere to industry standards and regulations and meet customer requirements. Independent and neutral, they are authorised by the competent authorities to monitor the compliance of laboratories.

They award certificates, markings and accreditation reports to laboratories that meet the required criteria, ensuring their quality and performance over time. In France, COFRAC is the accreditation body, while internationally, mutual recognition agreements exist between organizations, such as ILAC or EA.

What are the steps to take to test your products in the laboratory ?

To ensure the quality and compliance of your products through laboratory testing, you must follow a well-defined series of steps :

1. Define testing needs and objectives

The first step is to specify the requirements and objectives of the tests. Identify the relevant standards and regulations for your products, as well as the specific expectations of your customers or end users. Determine the characteristics and performance to be tested or validated.

Then develop a specification that specifies the test criteria, methods and protocols to follow.

2. Choosing the right laboratory

Select the laboratory that will perform the tests, according to your preferences, constraints and budget. Choose an internal or external laboratory with the necessary expertise, equipment and accreditations for your tests.

Also check the reputation, reliability and availability of the laboratory. The reviews and testimonials of other customers can give you an overview of the quality of its services.

3. Send samples of your products to the laboratory

The next step is to send the samples of your products to the laboratory. Be sure to respect the conditions necessary to preserve their integrity during collection, storage and transport.

Also provide the laboratory with all relevant information on the products, including their composition and instructions for use, and attach the test specifications and any document attesting to their conformity.

4. Monitor progress and test results

Keep in touch with the laboratory to follow the progress of the tests and stay informed of any changes or problems. Make sure you get test reports detailing the methods, results and conclusions.

Review reports for clarity and compliance with standards. Compare the results with your initial objectives to assess whether your products meet the expected quality and compliance criteria.

5. Make appropriate decisions and actions

Once laboratory test reports are received, it is important to make decisions and actions that are appropriate for the results. Positive results allow the validation and marketing of your products.

It also offers the opportunity to communicate on their quality and compliance, thus strengthening the trust and satisfaction of your customers. In the face of unsatisfactory results, it is essential to identify and rectify the causes of non-conformities, if necessary carrying out additional tests or corrective measures. Implementing preventive and corrective measures is also vital to improve the quality and compliance of your offers.

How much does a lab product test cost to ensure your compliance ?

The price of a laboratory conformity test varies according to various factors, including the type of product, the nature of the analyses, the choice of laboratory, the number of samples to be tested and the time required for these tests. A flat rate for these services is therefore not available, but it is possible to determine an estimate based on these elements.

The cost can vary greatly depending on the product category. For example, analyses of cosmetics can range from 300 to 4000 euros excluding taxes, while those concerning biological or biotechnological products can range from 1000 to 10000 euros excluding taxes. This price also fluctuates according to the complexity, duration or specificity of the test required.

Thus, a stability test can be worth 500 to 1500 euros before taxes, while a toxicity test can go from 2000 to 5000 euros before taxes.

The choice of laboratory also impacts the final price. Opting for an internal laboratory can prove to be economical in the long term despite a significant initial investment. On the other hand, an external laboratory, although potentially more expensive, ensures a valuable independence and impartiality for the credibility of the results.

The reputation, the quality of the services and the availability of the laboratory are also criteria influencing the cost. It is therefore wise to compete with several laboratories to find the best offer.

In addition, the number of samples, the duration of the analyses and other associated costs such as the collection, transport, storage or return of the samples must be considered. Indirect costs, such as administrative, certification or communication costs, should also be taken into account.

It is essential to precisely define your needs and objectives and to request a detailed estimate from the chosen laboratory before any decision.

Is there a renewal to be done regarding laboratory product testing ?

Laboratory product testing is a continuous phase, requiring periodic updating. Product advancements, changes in standards and regulations require constant validation of product compliance. Several aspects influence the frequency of these updates, including :

  • Product stability and shelf life : Some products, by their nature, require less verification. For example, a cosmetic product may require a semi-annual stability test, while a chemical may require an annual purity assessment.
  • Customer or consumer demands : Quality and safety expectations can lead to more frequent or specific tests. For example, a customer may request a quarterly performance test, while a consumer may require a monthly satisfaction survey.
  • Updates to standards or regulations : The evolution or introduction of new standards and regulations may require testing protocols to be adjusted. For example, a change in the standard may change the tolerance criteria, or a new regulation may require the addition of a specific marking.

Updating product testing in the laboratory is essential to ensure compliance, as well as improving product quality and performance. It is recommended to plan these updates taking into account the elements mentioned above and to stay informed of market trends and regulatory developments.

Opting for a laboratory offering a service for monitoring and updating tests is also recommended for effective management and better traceability of results.