Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) provides contract analytical, research, consultancy and training services, primarily to clients in the global food, drink and pharmaceutical industries.
However, its expertise in complex analysis and problem solving is frequently used in the research, development and quality control of a wide range of other consumer goods such as cosmetics, herbals supplements, house-care and animal care products.
Since its launch in 1987, RSSL has built its business on the core principle of 'Science with Service'. This focus has ensured that RSSL provides much more than routine testing services. Technical support, training and advice are as much a part of the RSSL service as practical expertise in chemistry, microscopy, and molecular biology.
Whilst the industries that RSSL serves have different requirements, there are aspects of RSSL's service that are common to all.
This is most keenly seen in the Emergency Response Service (ERS), which RSSL pioneered in 1987, and which remains a flag-ship service for the company. The ERS provides priority analytical support to member companies at times of a product crisis. RSSL's scientists are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to analyse suspected cases of product contamination or quality problems, and provide the crucial information on which to base decisions about the appropriate course of action to follow. ERS results are frequently used to inform decisions, for example, of whether to recall a product or to recognise that safety has not been compromised by a one-off incident and allow production to continue.
In most cases, ERS investigations require sophisticated chemical techniques and specific expertise to reach a successful conclusion. Food taints and off-flavours are especially challenging because food products represent a complex chemical matrix in which to locate and identify trace levels of a chemical contaminant.
Identifying solvent residues and degradation chemicals in pharmaceuticals can be equally challenging, because the degradation products are often unique to the product concerned and hence there are no reference materials against which to match the contaminant.
In spite of the success of the ERS, RSSL's chemists are more frequently employed in helping prevent any problems from occurring. They routinely analyse ingredients and products for key markers that demonstrate the purity, authenticity or quality of a product or ingredient. All of RSSL's laboratories work to strict quality systems, seeking accreditation to internationally recognised standards wherever applicable.
Helping manufacturers to substantiate claims that a product contains what it should contain, and does not contain what it should not, is a key part of RSSL's work, and this encompasses a wide range of issues. For example, RSSL was one of the first laboratories to offer a commercial testing service for genetically modified ingredients. Chemists in RSSL's specialist Lipids laboratory are expert in assessing the authenticity and quality of high value oils, as well as being able to analyse for added functional ingredients such as sterols, statins and omega-3 fatty acids. Similarly, chemists in RSSL's Functional Ingredients laboratory have developed methods for quantifying a whole host of novel functional ingredients and natural colours, as well as the more established vitamins that are routinely used to fortify foods. On the topic of colours, the same laboratory also offers a screen for unauthorised and/or synthetic colours, as a way of checking the quality of ingredients.
As noted above, the common theme of all this testing is to ensure that products and ingredients match their specification, and are of the purity, authenticity and quality that is required.
RSSL Pharma provides a similar service to manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and herbal remedies. Here, claim substantiation is often allied to stability studies, and RSSL is equipped with a range of temperature and humidity controlled storage facilities in which samples can be held for testing over a period of several months or years.
Many companies look to RSSL to provide a complete stability testing service, and RSSL Pharma is equipped to test the chemical, microbial and physical stability of a wide range of product formulations. Out of specifications results can be quickly investigated and explained, and with on-line reporting of results, clients are always able to keep track of how their work is progressing.
Consultants to Industry
RSSL's services in problem prevention extend beyond the laboratory, with all scientists being available to provide technical support and consultancy. This support can assist at all stages of an investigation.
RSSL takes pride in evaluation and interpretation of data giving clients the tools to solve problems and apply appropriate corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence.
In disciplines such as allergen management and food safety, RSSL also offers consultancy at the factory, assisting manufacturers in areas such as supplier specifications, plant design, writing standard operating procedures, testing requirements and staff training.
Over the years, RSSL has continued to invest heavily in new technologies, both in 'traditional' areas of chemistry (LC-MS) and in new areas such as DNA. The company has also developed its consumer testing capabilities and now has a clinical sciences department, which can carry out a range of medically supervised, safety, efficacy and preference based tests on healthcare products and OTC medicines.
Again, much of this work is focussed on claims substantiation, allowing manufacturers to make specific claims about the efficacy of their products on packaging and in advertising.
Reading Scientific Services Ltd
RSSL is an independent global leader at the forefront of scientific analytical analysis, product testing, product development, training and consultancy.
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