The Quality Assurance Process at Essential Wholesale & Labs
Natural & Organic Product Quality Assurance
Every product you purchase from Essential has been through a minimum of a seven-day quality assurance process to verify consistency in color, viscosity, scent, pH and of course, to ensure the product is free from microbial bacteria, yeast and mold (fungus).
When you order your products and ingredients from Essential, you’re buying not just a lotion or an essential oil or a peptide; you’re buying confidence in the products you sell your customers. When you work with Essential, you get fresh products made from responsibly sourced ingredients from around the world. And that’s where quality assurance begins. We source from vendors we trust and require supporting documentation on every item we bring into our facility. (You can learn more about our vendor selection process here. It’s why we’ll ask our private label customers to provide Certificates of Analysis and Saftey Data Sheets on any ingredients they provide.
All USDA Certified Organic ingredients are quarantined in a separate section of the warehouse to maintain strict adherence to the chain of control. And because we’re a small batch manufacturer, your products won’t have been sitting on our shelves for months and months. We batch every day, Monday through Thursday, and often Fridays, too. Many times your product will be created ‘on demand’, which is why it can take a little longer to get to you than if we were to stock months and months of supply. While our goal is to get your products in your hands as soon as possible, our passion for quality will sometimes mean you’ll occasionally receive a back-order notification that the product you want is still in our tanks or the QA process.
What is a Batch Retention Sample?
Every time we make a product, that ‘batch’ is unique to the date and time of manufacture. With natural and organic ingredients, our products can vary from batch to batch depending on the ingredients. So for example, let’s say we make Travis’s favorite Calendula Butter Creme on October 17, 2015, and again on January 3, 2016. The Calendula Extract for those two batches likely came from two different ‘lots’ or ‘batches’ of Calendula Extract. The extract will vary from crop to crop, just as apples, grapes, and oranges do. So in the same way as a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley is different from year to year, the Calendula flowers are, too.
In order to follow a batch through its life, we keep a sample from every batch we create and we label them with a Lot Code. Lot Coding is just a fancy way of saying we date the batch. We do this for traceability in case a customer, let’s call her Anna, has questions about their order. Once we have the Lot Code, we can tell that the container in question was made in October and not in January. Travis and his team will then pull the batch sample and can answer questions about the product Anna has in her hands. We also use batch retention samples to watch how a product changes over time. This is especially helpful for new products. We check the sample at regular intervals to see if the product is getting too soft, too hard, is separating or is just perfect. We use this information to fine-tune the compounding and formulation process.
Certificate of Analysis (CoA)
During the QA process, microbial Assays are performed to check for the presence of microbial bacteria and fungus. An Assay is an investigative process for determining the presence of something in a sample. Assays are commonly used now in cosmetic manufacturing, and provide a strict standard of measure for assessing the levels of a component, such as a yeast, in a product. We create a CoA for every product we manufacture and require them on all ingredients we source. If your distribution partner requires one, we can provide one for you at no additional charge. You can ask our customer service team and we’ll be happy to get a copy of the CoA for your lot over to you.
QA is a Team Sport
Led by our chemist Travis Culley, the QA team tests the viscosity of the product, the pH, and the microbiology. They also analyze the products for look, feel, and smell. The QA team is an integral part of the company, interacting with formulators and the compounders who make our products. During a pilot batch– the first time we make a product, QA, Formulators and Compounders are nearly inseparable as the team collaborates on how to scale a product from a one-pound batch made in the lab to a 40 lb or even 400 lb batch made in our tanks. We record everything we discover and integrate that data back into the manufacturing notes for future batches. QA is also a key member of the customer service team, helping our wholesale and lab customers get the exact right product every time.
So that’s a little about the QA process we have here. If you have any questions or areas you’d like to learn more about, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on our Facebook page.