Reading & Understanding a Laboratory Report

In the series of MAKING SENSE OUT OF MICRO, each article has taken you one step closer to selecting a laboratory to perform the testing on your products, ask the correct questions about your analyses with the laboratory manager and correctly select what tests to have your samples analysed for in your testing schedule.

Have you followed all the steps and proudly consider yourself knowledgable in microbiological testing? The laboratory sends you the laboratory report for your tested samples...can you read it, interpret it and take appropriate corrective action should the results not meet your specifications?


The next step is thus reading, understanding and interpreting your laboratory report. Once you are able to do this, you can put corrective and preventive actions in place to correct and prevent further “out of specification results”. Let’s go back to the basics and define all the microbiological terms that you may encounter on your laboratory report. Furthermore, what information should be in a report from a SANAS accredited laboratory? The following EXAMPLE of a LABORATORY REPORT will define what should be on a report that you receive from your approved SANAS accredited laboratory and furthermore define what all those terms mean.




Let’s compartmentalize each section of this report and explain from there...

Each laboratory report needs to specify the NAME of the LABORATORY, it’s PHYSICAL ADDRESS AND CONTACT NUMBERS.



Should the laboratory report have a SANAS LOGO, this deems the laboratory to be SANAS accredited. The SANAS LOGO must be accompanied by the Laboratory Accreditation Number e.g.T000. This number may be used to verify the accreditation status and list of methods that the laboratory is accredited for on the SANAS website. All methods displayed on a report with a SANAS logo should be accredited. If a method is not accredited, the method may still be used in conjunction with the SANAS logo, but must be highlighted that is not accredited and only be used on such a report if other accredited methods are on the same report. If all methods on the report are not accredited, the SANAS logo may not appear on the report.


The report should specify the company and person at the company to whom the report should be sent. This should also include all contact details.





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