Quality control of agricultural and botanical products has four major components:
Authentication of Identity - Is this material what it claims to be?Quality control begins with verification of the identity of the product. It is obviously important to verify that products are identified properly. Microscopy is a first step that can be taken in order to authenticate the identity of an agricultural or botanical product. Comparison of microscopic structures to authentic reference material, literature reference (pharmacopoeial monographs), previous acceptable batches, or other known standards allows for first-level verification of identity. A trained microscopist can be as effective than even complex chemical analysis with experience. Chloral hydrate is recommended as a clearing agent by the United States Pharmacopoeia, the American Herbal Pharmacopoiea, as well as the FDA for use in microscopic evaluation and authentication of botanical and agricultural products. Visikol lets anyone use this technique.
Assess any adulterants - Are there any unidentified foreign species or materials added purposefully or otherwise?
Examination for adulterants is a critical aspect of quality control. Adulteration can be purposeful, when producers or distributors add species and/or materials which are not indicated in order to lower the cost of production (addition of sawdust or grasses to add cheap weight), or to increase the apparent quality of a product by "tricking" analytical procedures (such as adding a dye to Bilberry extract). Adulteration can also be unintentional, a result of misidentification during picking/harvest causing unwanted species to be combined with the product. Visikol allows you to clearly identify all objectives in a specimen, allowing for the quick identification of foreign materials which are not found in authentic materials.
Assess any contaminants - Can the presence of mold, insects, dirt be detected?
Quality of botanical or agricultural products carries the implication that the material be free of mold, insects, bacteria, dirt, sand, glass, metal and other contaminants. Contamination of food by pathogenic organisms has caused severe outbreaks of disease in the past and have cost millions of dollars in product recalls, damage to brand, FDA audits, and damages to consumers. The health risk carried from contaminated food is substantial and as such the FDA recommends the use of a clearing agent such as chloral hydrate to aid in microscopic inspection. Visikol places this technique in the hands of everyone.
Assess qualitative aspects - Considering all information, how good is this product?
Assessing overall quality of a product is a difficult and often expensive task which is critical to the maintenance of brand name and consumer satisfaction. Subtle changes can go undetected by many analytical techniques, and can impact the customer's experience of your product. A skilled and experienced analyst can quickly identify characteristics which can allow him or her to quickly and accurately gauge many aspects of overall quality from microscopic observation. The human senses are uniquely tuned through evolution to recognize patterns in the quality of foods and materials, and so the use of human senses in quality control is a sophisticated way to obtain large amounts of information at little cost, especially when coupled to experience. Visikol lets you see samples from the inside, letting you get the most of out your analysis.