Our Quality Control Practices
Receiving and Sampling
When we receive new raw material, we place it in quarantine – a clearly marked area separated from approved raw materials. Materials in this area are only handled by employees who gather samples for testing and cannot be used in production or sent to clients until all testing procedures and documentation is complete.
Any given shipment of raw material can contain several containers of the same product. To be sure all the material is up to our quality standards, samples are taken from every container. A composite sample is then blended from these samples and sent to a third party lab for analysis.
Each sample goes through several tests. Different products undergo different analyses based on the product’s chemical composition and properties. A product’s specification data sheet discloses which tests are performed and our minimum standards. These specifications are publicly posted for every product on the product listing page.
Third Party TestingEvery batch of every product is sent out for analysis and verified by an independent third party laboratory both quantitatively (purity) and qualitatively (identity) as well as for contaminants. A list of testing techniques we used and a brief explanation of each is listed below:
HPLC – Purity & IdentificationHigh Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) is the method by which most products are tested for purity. This method is utilized when there is a single molecule or class of molecules that can be assayed for. HPLC relies on pumps to pass a pressurized liquid and a sample mixture through a column filled with adsorbent, leading to the separation of the sample components based on the strength of their attraction to the adsorbent, after which they are analyzed by shining light on the separate sample components as they come off the column. Most organic compounds absorb a certain amount of light, so as they pass by the applied light beam, a detector can pick up how much light is absorbed. The detector also records the components’ retention time based on the order in which they come off the column. This output can then be analyzed based on peak area to determine the exact nature of the sample’s components or fed into another analytical machine for additional analysis as in the case of LC-MS.
NMR Spectroscopy – Structure & Identification
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) is a spectroscopic technique to observe local magnetic fields around atomic nuclei. As the fields are unique or highly characteristic to individual compounds, in modern organic chemistry practice, NMR spectroscopy is the definitive method to identify monomolecular organic compounds.
Samples are placed in a magnetic field and the NMR signal is produced by excitation of the nuclei sample with radio waves into nuclear magnetic resonance, which is detected with sensitive radio receivers. The intramolecular magnetic field around an atom in a molecule changes the resonance frequency, thus giving access to details of the electronic structure of a molecule and its individual functional groups.
TLC – Purity & Identification
Thin-Layer Chromatography (TLC) is a chromatography technique used to separate non-volatile mixtures. We use this method for plant extracts made up of many different compounds. TLC is essentially a rudimentary 2-dimensional flash chromatography, except the mobile phase travels up a plate via capillary action instead of down a column. TLC is performed on a sheet of glass, plastic, or aluminium foil, which is coated with a thin layer of adsorbent material, usually silica gel, aluminium oxide (alumina), or cellulose. This layer of adsorbent is known as the stationary phase. Thin-layer chromatography can be used to monitor the progress of a reaction, identify compounds present in a given mixture, and determine the purity of a substance.
ICP-MS – Heavy Metal TestingInductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a type of mass spectrometry which is capable of detecting metals and several non-metals at concentrations as low as one part in 1015 (part per quadrillion, ppq) on non-interfered low-background isotopes. This is achieved by ionizing the sample with inductively coupled plasma and then using a mass spectrometer to separate and quantify those ions. We use this technique to test for toxic heavy metal contamination. All products undergo this test, specifically for arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead.
Microbiology Panel – Contaminant TestingThe microbiology panel involves ensuring products are below acceptable limits for common and dangerous microbes by culturing samples with growth media for pathogenic species. All products that are extracts of biological entities undergo this panel. The tests included in the panel are the Total Aerobic Plate Count, Yeast; Mold Count, E. Coli presence, S. Aureus presence, and Salmonella presence.
GC-MS – Contaminant TestingGas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is an analytical method that combines the features of gas-chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a mixed test sample. Applications of GC-MS include drug detection, fire investigation, environmental analysis, explosives investigation, and identification of unknown samples. GC-MS has been regarded as a “gold standard” for forensic substance identification because it is used to perform a 100% specific test, which positively identifies the presence of a particular substance. A nonspecific test merely indicates that any of several in a category of substances is present. Although a nonspecific test could statistically suggest the identity of the substance, this could lead to false positive identification.
Other TestingSome products are difficult or impossible to test with the aforementioned methods. In these cases, alternative methods must be used. Those methods can include:
Thermogravimetric Analysis – PurityThermogravimetric analysis (TGA) is a method of thermal analysis in which the mass of a sample is measured over time as the temperature changes. This measurement provides information about physical phenomena, such as phase transitions, absorption, adsorption and desorption; as well as chemical phenomena including chemisorptions, thermal decomposition, and solid-gas reactions (e.g., oxidation or reduction).
FTIR Spectroscopy – Identification & Purity
The goal of any absorption spectroscopy (FTIR, ultraviolet-visible (“UV-Vis”) spectroscopy, etc.) is to measure how well a sample absorbs light at each wavelength. The most straightforward way to do this, the “dispersive spectroscopy” technique, is to shine a monochromatic light beam at a sample, measure how much of the light is absorbed, and repeat for each different wavelength.
Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is a technique used to obtain an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas. An FTIR spectrometer simultaneously collects high-spectral-resolution data over a wide spectral range. This confers a significant advantage over a dispersive spectrometer, which measures intensity over a narrow range of wavelengths at a time.
Titration – Purity
Titration, also known as titrimetry, is a common laboratory method of quantitative chemical analysis that is used to determine the concentration of an identified analyte. Since volume measurements play a key role in titration, it is also known as volumetric analysis. A reagent, called the titrant or titrator is prepared as a standard solution.
Final Review & Release
After all testing is complete we review results one last time for completeness and accuracy before releasing the material from quarantine. Every raw material must pass all relevant tests within designated specifications in order for the material to be used in production.
Quality Mission Statement
Management will continuously review its efforts to exceed our customers’ expectations with an emphasis on making sure every aspect of the company exhibits a commitment to our high quality standards.