Dr Ehrenstorfer: a heritage in pesticides
Part two: The quest for quality
Over the last five decades, Dr Ehrenstorfer has become the world’s leading provider of pesticide reference materials - leading the way in quality and innovation, and constantly improving our portfolio to match the changing needs of our customers. In this second of three articles celebrating our heritage, Dr Ehrenstorfer expert scientists Dan Biggerstaff, Kelly Cheshire, and Philipp Feuerriegel discuss how the quest for quality has always been at the heart of our offer – and how this benefits our customers.
What can a customer expect from a Dr Ehrenstorfer product?
Philipp Feuerriegel: Quality! What we’re looking for is the highest purity available, the most precise data available, the highest level of qualification available. We’re offering our customers what’s at the core of ISO 17034: a fully qualified, traceable, stable and homogenous product. I think we should also mention that we weren’t just accredited to 17034 as a reference material producer, we were accredited to ISO Guide 34 before that, from 2012. ISO 17034 was only created in 2016, but we were already an accredited producer by then. We have always aimed to achieve the highest accreditation standard as soon as it was available, and our focus has always been on comparability – because the purpose of the ISO standards is to create comparable results. So, by creating a product that is compliant with these standards, we’re saying to our customer: ‘You can compare our product with every other one in the world and the data will always be correct.’
Philipp – as one of the senior scientists at the Augsburg site, what was your experience of striving for ISO 17034?
Philipp Feuerriegel: Well, we’ve always aimed for the highest possible accreditation, but also for the highest quality overall – so we were ISO 9001 certified from the beginning, then we were 17025 accredited as a testing lab. But the initial accreditation process for ISO Guide 34 took more than a year of preparation – the first accreditation is always the hardest one, because it’s new – and I think we had nine auditors visiting us in total, so that was really, really, tough. I think in the beginning there were only three companies accredited to the standard in Germany – there was Dr Ehrenstorfer, LGC Mikromol in Luckenwalde, and the German regulatory body for measurement.
And Dan – what was your motivation, striving for ISO 17034 in Charleston?
Dan Biggerstaff: One of the real driving forces behind hopping on board with ISO 17034 was that it was a whole new level of quality distinction. Not all labs or manufacturers initially wanted to go that route, because it did involve a good bit of investment: not just of time but in developing processes, and all of the methods required to do the uncertainty portion of the testing. And it required additional equipment, so it was a pretty big financial commitment to make. It was a little daunting at first – just the amount of additional work that we had to do in planning, and developing processes to make sure that every product went through the proper steps. But having ISO 17034 accreditation put us at the top of the quality ladder, and we really saw that as critical in our development.
What does ISO 17034 accreditation mean for Dr Ehrenstorfer customers?
Kelly Cheshire: It makes a very big difference. There will still be customers who want some ISO 17025 products, but 17025 is technically a laboratory accreditation: the measurements you do within the lab rather than the actual product itself. But in the ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, it actually says that where 17034 reference materials are available, you must use them. So, by having ISO 17034 products available at both our sites, the customers will automatically want to come to us, because that’s what’s stipulated in their accreditation.
It's all about bringing peace of mind to our customers - because they know that when they use a 17034 product they’ve got the absolute maximum information there to help them make informed decisions. They’re less likely to make false negative, or false positive, conclusions on the data, which means you’re less likely to have product recalls. You’re also less likely to have consumer safety concerns, or negative environmental impacts, because you’re monitoring everything more accurately. And that feeds into LGC’s commitment to Science for a safer world.
How else do we add value for our customers?
Dan Biggerstaff: Another aspect of ISO 17034 that’s pretty significant for the industry is that, as the manufacturer, we are now responsible for telling our customers how long – once they open that standard and start using it – they can use it for. And to what additional uncertainty. It opens up another layer of responsibility for us. When that statement came out, most of our competition put on their certificates that “The uncertainty is as stated”. So when the vial is opened, it’s only good for single use. In other words, a lab will buy a $500 ampoule, use 10 microlitres, and be expected to throw the other 990 microlitres away because some manufacturers don’t want to accept the responsibility of how that solution could change. What we did instead was a year-long study to determine – based on the analytes, and the solvents, and the container we recommend – how long the customer can continue to use that product before it drifts five per cent in concentration, so introducing another five per cent uncertainty. So we actually put that on our certificate. And, to my knowledge, right now we’re the only manufacturer doing that. Ultimately, our products will save customers a lot of money, because they can open them, use what they need and store them for a specified time until they have to discard them – if they haven’t used all of it by then.
Kelly Cheshire: At this stage, I’d like to highlight our certificates, because I think they make things really, really, clear. We put a lot of effort into the redesign of our certificates and alignment with the ISO 17034 accreditation.
For nearly half a century, Dr Ehrenstorfer has consistently led the industry in pesticide reference materials. Today and tomorrow, we are committed to continuously improving our products, and expanding our offering with hundreds of new releases every year. You can browse our full range of pesticide products here.
Our PestiMix kit, accredited to ISO 17034, meanwhile offers a quick and easy solution to enable prompt calibration and spiking of a large number of pesticide analytes. The first product in the series – PestiMix v700 – features the largest mix of pesticide analytes to be found anywhere on the market, combining more than 700 analytes for liquid chromatography in only five ampoules. These solutions can be combined in just three minutes to create a single solution of 739 analytes at 1ppm. Calibration, meanwhile, takes just 30 minutes, optimising a laboratory’s efficiency and analytical performance.