Reference Materials

Every day thousands of laboratories around the world perform microbiological tests on many different matrices such as water, food or biological material. The main objective of these laboratories is to produce rapid and quality results, since incorrect results can have important implications for public health, as well as strong economic repercussions.

For these reasons, the implementation of quality control programs is not only necessary, but mandatory. These quality systems are based, in most cases, on international standards, which demonstrate the technical competence of the laboratory and the reliability of the results it generates. In this sense, all the requirements for the implementation of a quality control system are included in ISO 17025. This standard aims to basically improve the management of the laboratory and ensure the validity of the results produced, demonstrating that the laboratory is technically competent and that is producing accurate and credible results. In this standard, the performance of external and internal quality control procedures is contemplated, for all the activities carried out in the laboratory in the verification of the quality of the results and for the periodic verification of the quality control system.

One of the most important tools for quality control is the use of reference materials.

A reference material (RM), in accordance with the definitions of ISO Guide 30, is a material, sufficiently homogeneous and stable with respect to one or more specified properties, which has been established to be fit for its intended use in a measurement process. By another hand, a certified reference material (CRM) is a reference material (RM) characterized by a metrologically valid procedure for one or more specified properties, accompanied by an RM certificate that provides the value of the specified property, its associated uncertainty, and a statement of metrological traceability.

In general, the reference materials can be used in the validation of a method, in the calibration of a team, in training tasks, and of course in the internal control of quality and even in the external evaluation of quality.

ielab is a Producer of a line of Accredited Reference Materials according to ISO 17034, with file number 01 / PMR001, named BACredi in case of microbiological products.  You can find detailed information about our accredited products in our catalogue of reference materials.

Our certified reference materials have the following properties:


It is an indispensable requirement and means that it presents the same value of the certified property within the same unit and between all the units of the same material. From a practical point of view, it can be sufficiently homogeneous with respect to the property of interest although it is not homogeneous with respect to other properties.


It must be stable during shipping conditions and must know the time that remains stable since receipt and since the container is opened. The stability has to refer to both the certified properties and the matrix.


It must be traceable to national or international reference standards and must be reflected in the certificate provided by the producer organization.


The certified values ​​of the desired property must be accompanied by their values ​​of uncertainty.


It should be as similar as possible, both in the composition of the matrix and in the value of the property to be determined, to the real samples that will be later analyzed with the buyer’s analytical method.