A Quick Word On The Importance of Proper Sampling.
Let's say we want to test something to get an idea of its nutritional value. For our example let us use a pizza
with multiple toppings.
If you wanted to know the true properties of this pizza (subject to some analytical variances) you would have to
grind up and test every bit of the whole pizza, which would be very costly and time consuming. So we need to reduce
the sample size.
Much better. Now we only spend half of the original time and money on testing, and it looks like we still have a
sample that would represent the whole rather well. Bread, sauce, cheese, meat and veggies seem to be represented
in our reduced-size sample. What if we made the sample very much smaller, about the size of bite?
Now our sample size is small and easy to test; the trouble is the nutrient profile is going to look like our
whole product is mostly made of linguica with very little bread or other toppings.
Quite frankly, when we analyze samples brought into our lab our most important job is to make sure we run our
tests on the samples properly. That's why in our reports you'll find an explanation that the results are
indicative of the sample received, NOT necessarily the whole batch from which the sample was taken. We can't
'reverse engineer' the results to negate poor sampling. Testing that little bite of linguica isn't going to tell
us what the whole pizza has in it.
With that in mind, if you are unsure what size sample is best (or procedure to gather it) give us a call and we'll
let you know. That way the results from our tests will make more sense and instill a bit more confidence in the
values we report back to you. We actually have tested pizza before, by the way, but the same issues also apply to
liquids, feeds, minerals, forages and other food products.
We'll take your sample and properly prepare it for testing, which may include drying, grinding or blending so that
it is homogenous (uniform throughout) and ready to be analyzed.
- Give us at least 4-8 oz of sample (100-200 grams) for solid samples, and 16-32 oz for liquids if possible.
- Keep your samples sealed as best you can. Dry samples can pick up moisture from the air, and wet samples can
actually start to dry out if left in an open container. Seal those zip bags or tie off those plastic bags and they'll
get to us in much better shape.
- Keep in mind that some samples need to stay cold or cool; ice chests, "cool packs" or even a frozen orange
juice container from the store work well for transporting or shipping.
- If your sample is a liquid, please leave a little airspace in the bottle with the sample. This helps us to
mix the sample more thoroughly without losing some during the process.
- If your sample is from a large pile, stack or railcar, please sample from different places to get a more
representative sample of the whole. Not everyone has a probe or can climb to the top of a large pile but do the best
- Some liquid samples "grow" during shipping; natural processes such as fermentation can cause pressure buildup
within a sample container. Ship early in the week, quickly, with cool packs to ensure package integrity.
Again, call us if you have questions. Thank you!