A Look Around Our Lab

A "sample" tour of the lab and typical sites therein.

This is where the tour starts, at the front door on the northeast corner of the building.
1111 Miller Park Court, Visalia California

Here we are at the sample "check-in" counter. All samples get assigned a lab number and sheet that can be followed throughout the various assays in the lab. At this time we view any paperwork that came with the sample and note what needs to be tested.

If there are any unclear instructions on the sample paperwork we'll contact the sender to make sure what is wanted.

Sample prep room. After the sample is written up, we have to make sure it is consistent throughout before we test it. This may include drying the sample first or blending; most samples are ground into a coarse powder by the appropriate grinder for the job. Brabender moisture testers seen on the far countertop corners, sample storage jars underneath.

When a sample is tested, an exact amount is weighed and recorded. Many assays are gravimetric; weight gain or loss will indicate the level of a particular aspect, such as fat.

LECO Nitrogen analyzer. Our newest piece of equipment, this determines the total Nitrogen in a sample, and thus its crude protein equivalent.

ANKOM fat extractor. Most samples will be weighed into packets to extract the fat. This instrument then cycles Pet Ether through the packets to extract the fat.

Older-style fat extractor, used primarily when we need to individually collect the fat from each sample for further testing, such as free fatty acids or peroxides.

Crude fiber unit. By alternately boiling samples in acid and base solutions and capturing the residue, we can determine crude fiber content. Changing the solutions will give us ADF and NDF assays.

High temperature muffles are used to "burn off" organic matter when we are interested in such aspects as ash and minerals.

Varian Atomic Absorption instrument on the left, ventilation hood on the right. Electron energy will tell the tale of the level of a particular element in the sample.

Occasionally a sample will need to be viewed under low magnification (macroscopic examination) for a more detailed view of a product for signs of mold or insect infestation.

Vacuum oven on left, used when normal moisture methods would burn off sugars while driving off water. Spectrophotometer center-right for testing phosphorus levels.

Drying ovens. Because many assays rely on weight change, moisture must be controlled so it won't be misinterpreted as contributing to another assay's result.

A Roto Tap, a shaker with graduated screens that lets us evaluate the particle size of a grind.

Fischer Auto titrator, an instrument for yet another method to determine moistures.

After running the sample through the lab, we've got to get the results to you. Assays are entered into the computer to generate a report, which will then be emailed, faxed or physically mailed. For samples that will take several days to complete, some customers prefer we call them when partial results are available.

Remaining samples are retained for several weeks in case additional tests are requested post-report. Toxic and hazardous chemicals used in the testing are disposed of per health and safety regulations through appropriate agents.

That's the tour. Come in person and you can smell it too!