Validity of test reports

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Legal advisor, Emil Mitev, Sales Manager

One of the most common questions customers ask is “How long is a test report valid“. In order to answer this question, we need to consider several factors on which the issuance of a test report depends:

  1. The test report is a document containing data of measurements and / or tests performed by the laboratory at the client’s request for a specific product (hereinafter referred to as “the sample”). The test report shall include details of the sample submitted, its batch or other identification, expiry date (if applicable), weight or dimensions, client’s information data (company or names, address), as well as a detailed description of the measurements or tests according to the laboratory quality management system. After completion of all measurements and tests assigned by the customer for a given sample, the report shall indicate the appropriate results for the given measurement or test for the sample provided. For all the examples below, we assume that the laboratory that issued the test report acts as a registered trade company and is subject to all national and international rules applicable to its business. We will not consider examples where test reports were issued, containing false information or published by an unidentified author, as well as those related to forged documents.
  2. Once the test report is issued, the test report will forever contain measurements and / or test data for the particular sample submitted. The information specified in the report is not information that has validity in time or may expire after a specified period of time. This is because the data specified in the test report issued reflects the information that was valid for the particular period in which the test report was issued. For example: if, for a sample representing the Tuna Fish Can Food, Lot XXX, produced on 20.02.2019, a shelf life of 20.02.2020, the indicator “Total number of micro-organisms” is assigned to be analyzed and in the test report the result is <10 cfu / g, this information reflects a fact that was such at the date of the test. This information does not have a validity and will not change over time. The test report applies only to the sample submitted for analysis and the information contained therein in relation to the measurements or tests carried out applies only to the sample submitted for analysis.
  3. In case the client has provided for analysis the so-called. ‘Representative sample’, which is a ‘mean sample’ of several separate products, in order to carry out measurements or tests that show results for a single batch of production, the test report issued with the results of measurements or tests specified therein will only be valid for the mean sample provided. Again, as mentioned above, the test protocol will have no validity period, or a period after which it will “expire” as valid.
  4. The only case where a test report may cease to be valid at a certain future time is for legislative changes that explicitly, retrospectively, make changes by virtue of which retroactively change the information reflected in the past. For example: if a BDS Cheese sample was tested for the Moisture Indicator using the 1234 method, and it was stated by law that all BDS Cheese tests for the Moisture Indicator, performed with the method “1234” for a specific period are considered invalid with retrospective due to a mistake in the method, then the information in the test report, according to the legal norm, will be considered invalid. This is the only exception to the above, as until now there have been no similar legislative changes that retroactively change the validity of the data reported in the test reports.

In summary of the above, we can conclude that a test report contains information about a given sample that has been subjected to measurements or tests, and their results will forever remain as they are reflected, but only for the specific test sample , respectively, at the time of the test. The test report does not expire after a certain period of time and its validity is not changed, except in specific cases related to legislative changes (see paragraph 4 above). The test report applies only to the specimen specifically submitted for analysis and does not apply to future samples (products) that the customer will produce, even if the process of production is the same (technology, raw materials, packaging, etc.) as it was used for the tested sample. Measurement or test data recorded in the test report will not change over time and will forever reflect the condition of the particular sample analyzed for measurements or tests made during the period specified in the test report.

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