Client Acceptable Sample Storage Times

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The standard to which all NATA accredited laboratories must meet, AS ISO/IEC 17025, has been reviewed and reissued. This 2018 version requires the following:

Upon receipt of the test item, deviations from specified conditions shall be recorded. When there is doubt about the suitability of an item for test, or when an item does not conform to the description provided, the laboratory shall consult the customer for further instructions before proceeding and shall record the results of this consultation. When the customer requires the item to be tested acknowledging a deviation from specified conditions, the laboratory shall include a disclaimer in the report indicating which results may be affected by the deviation.

Whereas this is already being followed for most circumstances that occur, such as samples received in non-sterile containers or leaking or possibly contaminated samples. The issue of time delay needs special attention.

The Australian Standard AS 2031-2012 Water quality - Sampling for microbiological analysis (ISO 19458-2006 MOD) Annex B states the recommended and acceptable transportation time and temperatures for water samples for microbiological analysis. Note these are stated as an informative guide only. See attached document.

With regard to Legionella testing the recommended conditions are within 24 hours held at 2°C - 8°C, the acceptable conditions are within 24 hours held at ambient temperature or 48 hours held at 2°C - 8°C.

With regard to other microorganisms that we analyse the recommended conditions vary from 8 to 24 hours at 2°C - 8°C.

Previously it has been regarded as acceptable to process all water samples within 24 hours. Based on the informative guidelines in Annex B, this is not always correct. As per the requirements of AS ISO/IEC 17025 we are required to consult with you whenever the conditions are outside requirements. This is not possible when samples are processed outside of normal trading hours. To ensure we meet your requirements and reduce the number of telephone calls, you are required to complete and return the attached form. To ensure security, please print it as a PDF or print and scan and return by email.

By completing the form, Client Acceptable Sample Storage Times we can continue to provide the level of service you have grown to expect. Once completed please return to