Can I see the raw analytical data, spectra, chromatograms, methods for your lab reports?

Can I see the raw analytical data, spectra, chromatograms, methods for your lab reports?
January 30, 2020 admin

The answer is yes.. and no. Where possible we provide easy to verify spectra e.g. NMR, FTIR. Where this is not possible because the third party lab considers the data proprietary we do not.

As you know, we publicly post lab reports, certificates of analysis, from independent third party laboratories, the same reports which we use to approve and validate our materials and production processes. These reports are publicly available to you, dear reader.

However a certificate of analysis is not raw analytical data. And a certificate may not be worth much if it’s not tied to any certified, trusted body. To use a metaphor: an SSL browser certificate is required for your browser to trust HTTPS protocol pages. An SSL certificate from you or me with no reputation for browser security isn’t going to be as trustworthy as an SSL from Verisign which has a long standing reputation for protecting its encrypted keys. That is such a consensus belief that your browser will just ignore SSL certificates from unknown entities and label the webpage as untrustworthy.

Our certificates of analysis, our lab reports, are from trusted third party independent, registered laboratories. They are accredited for or compliant with relevant ISO standards. They are not something a fly-by-night trading company made at a moment’s notice. They are tied to unique lab IDs from an entity you can contact to verify, who is based in the United States and whose business depends on the validity of their statements, just like Verisign. Additionally, they include unique product batch and lot IDs that are printed on each product we carry – so you can look up the corresponding lab report for each product. All of this is tracked throughout our production process in a chain of custody with batch data going back years.

But, you ask, why don’t you include the raw analytical data, analytical methods, spectra and chromatograms in your lab reports? Well, you probably already know this. Analytical chemistry is a big business. Accredited, validated methods can cost upwards of $20,000 to produce. Most analytical labs are adapting methods from the scientific literature, which is a fast way to develop something that works. Exactly what methods they use are proprietary, they don’t want a competitor to know how they verified a specific material. So they are unlikely to share this, or at least all of it.

But, you ask, the lab could share the spectra and chromatograms? Yes and typically we do request FTIR, LC-MS, and NMR spectra. In the case of HPLC chromatograms, they will be meaningless without additional information, such as the equipment used, blank runs for comparison, and analytical methods. In the past we have paid an additional fee to have HPLC chromatograms included in lab reports. But inevitably the lab will censor or omit details to protect itself. If you feel very strongly about this you can contact us and we can request chromatograms for specific reports at our expense.

But, you ask, aren’t you just trusting the lab, why should I trust your analytical lab? Yes that’s true. We trust, but verify. Besides doing due diligence on potential analytical partners, we interview their staff and cross-examine the lab reports they send us. In some cases, the reports are easy to verify, such as an NMR or FTIR spectra. With HPLC chromatograms that is not the case. We can send samples to other laboratories and confirm the result. And that is what we’ve done numerous times for each of our partner analytical labs. We have sent samples to trusted secondary labs to confirm their results and if there is a discrepancy then we know something untoward was happening and we won’t use that lab anymore. That is broadly our process for validating analytical partners.

All publicly posted lab reports on our product listings come from these trusted laboratories that we have consistently cross-examined and verified successfully. So, beyond their long standing reputation, this is why we trust the results we receive from partner laboratories. I hope that lends some insight into our analytical process and why chromatograms are not generally included in our lab reports. The data is not useful without additional information which, as a standard of industry, is unlikely to be divulged.