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Sweet Science: Extractables & Leachables Testing

children-trick-or-treatingOctober is upon us, which means ‘tis the season for delicious candy! Soon, many of us will have a hefty bag of delicious Halloween candy hanging out on our countertops or in our cabinets, whether from trick-or-treating or taking advantage of those post-holiday sales. That candy always tastes great for the first while, but as the days turn to weeks, your candy stash (or your child’s candy stash that you’ve been secretly raiding since November 1st [don’t worry; we won’t tell]) starts to taste kind of…funny.

When you leave a lot of different candy together, they all end up tasting like one another. Left a raspberry candy near your Kit Kat? Hello…raspberry chocolate bar. Not the most appetizing snack.

Like many strange things you notice everyday, there’s a scientific and testable explanation for this phenomenon. It turns out that, while the large bag your candy comes in is very vapor-proof, the individual wrappers aren’t. As the candies all sit together for weeks or months, the compounds that make up how the candies smell mix together, across the permeable wrappers. The same way that packaged goods go stale, the flavors combine across these barrier as well.

Have you ever put a banana in your lunch box in the morning, left for the day, and opened up your bag at lunch, only to find that all your foods now taste like that banana? That’s the same concept. So how would we test for this?

Meet extractables and leachables testing.

While these two tests are similar, the testing environments differ somewhat. Leachable testing is normally based on a simulation of the worst environment it may actually see in storage and use. This could mean high or low temperatures, or wide range of humidity and pressures that a substance might be exposed to during transport and storage.

Extractable testing, in contrast, typically exposes the material to very harsh chemicals and temperatures beyond what it is expected to encounter, in an effort to get everything possible out of it.

This testing is used in a wide range of industries. Our Applied Chemistry & Spectroscopy lab manager, Alan Sentman, elaborated, “Products that often undergo extractables and leachables testing include medical devices, pharmaceutical packaging, single-use bioprocess components, food contact materials, and other consumer goods.”

Once a company has data to show their medical device is safe and effective for its intended use, they also have to prove that the packaging is free of harmful substances that could contaminate the product. This is often done with extractables and leachables testing.

These tests ensure safety in the products we use every day. They are very important to businesses and consumers alike, as they ensure  end-user safety.

Here at SGS PSI, we have a wide range of testing services and the capability to simulate a huge range of environments that products are likely to encounter. Extractables and leachables testing is hugely important to a wide range of industries. With our over 30 years of independent testing experience, we’ve done a lot in this particular space. If you’re in need of independent testing from an industry-leading laboratory, contact us today!