It takes a lot of effort to earn, but those who have it believe that it’s worth it to them and to their clients.
We’re talking about the ISO 17025 accreditation. The International Organization for Standardization certificate ensures that laboratories that prepare testing and calibration reports have the procedures in place to consistently produce valid results. A prerequisite for a lab to earn accreditation is to have a documented quality management system.
Exact Scientific Services is one of the few testing laboratories in Washington state that has ISO 17025 accreditation. It took some work to obtain the classification, but CEO and Laboratory Director Kent Oostra says it was worth the effort, reports Food Safety News.
Oostra sees the silver lining in effort to get the certification. The ISO mandate for precise testing results in the lab minimizing risk, helps reduce or eliminate the need for retesting, and helps customers build confidence in the testing industry. “All of this reduces costs, improves acceptance, and positively impacts the bottom line,” he says.
Food Safety News explains further the requirements for certification:
Indeed, ISO 17025 looks at a laboratory’s ability to produce precise and accurate tests. ISO evaluates the technical competence of the staff, validity of test methods, traceability of the testing, quality assurance of data and the testing environment, and suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment. And to ensure continued compliance, accredited laboratories are audited on a yearly basis to check that they are maintaining their technical expertise.
“We uncovered a number of surprising benefits for our clients through ISO certification,” Oostra says. “Our clients are telling us that ISO provides peace of mind during internal audits, as well as assurances for their customers.”
One client, Mike Kaminski, director of quality assurance, at Barleans Organic Oils, says the ISO accreditation “helps us when we have internal audits and they ask us if our lab has certifications. The ISO speaks volumes and helps us a lot.”
Another client at Enfield Farms agrees. “ISO is gaining in importance in our audits,” says Laura Macaulay, quality assurance manager. “A third-party lab negates the potential for conflict of interest, and an ISO certified lab negates any concerns for testing procedures.”
The fact that ISO accreditation is internationally recognized gives accredited laboratories a form of international recognition. Their tests can then be more readily accepted. “We don’t need to get products double tested in different markets to accommodate regional requirements,” says another Exact client.
Polymer Solutions (PSI) is ISO 17025 accredited as well. PSI is often called upon by manufacturers to find contaminants in products or determine why the quality of a product has been compromised. Here are 25 surprising examples.