Symbio Laboratories FAQ

Sample Submission and Receipt FAQs

How do I submit my samples for analysis?

Samples submitted for analysis need to be accompanied by an Analysis Request Form (ARF) which provides information on the sample and for what tests need performing. Please ensure the ARF includes an accurate description of the product that will be tested (e.g. Granny Smith Apple, groundwater, wheat grain, rice cracker snacks). If you are testing your product for microbiological and chemistry testing, ideally send two separate samples. For allergen testing, a separate sample is required in a double bag, clearly marked with “Allergen Testing” on the outer pack.

Where can I find the Analysis Request Form (ARF) and how do I fill it out?

Symbio Laboratories recommends that you speak to the Customer Service Team or your Account Manager to receive a customised ARF form that meets your specific testing requirements. A generic ARF form and Terms and Conditions are downloadable here.

What happens when I submit a sample with Symbio Laboratories?

What is a Sample Receipt Notification (SRN)?

You will receive an SRN following the receipt of samples for analysis.

The SRN is your confirmation that the samples have arrived at our laboratory and was registered into our Laboratory Information System (LIMS).

What information does a Sample Receipt Notification (SRN) contain?

The SRN contains important information about your sample(s), such as the uniquely assigned Job Reference Number, the receipt temperature of the product, the test(s) assigned and the expected due date for completion of the job.

Who will receive a Sample Receipt Notification (SRN)?

If you have nominated your email address on the Analysis Request Form (ARF) as a recipient of a copy, then you will receive a copy of the SRN and the results certificate via email.

When will you receive a Sample Receipt Notification (SRN)?

The SRN is automatically generated from our Laboratory Information System (LIMS) database and issued (by email) the following morning after sample registration.

What should I do with a Sample Receipt Notification (SRN)?

The SRN should be checked thoroughly by you to ensure the information you provided on the Analysis Request Form (ARF) has been correctly interpreted.

If you notice an error, immediately contact your Symbio Laboratories Account Manager, or our Customer Service team on 1300 703 166 (please quote the job reference number e.g. S123456).

What size eskies are available and how much do they cost?

Symbio Laboratories offer the following esky sizes:

  • Small (4.8ltr)
  • Medium (15ltr)
  • Large (20ltr)

Pricing will depend on esky weight, dimensions, and shipping location. If you require a cost estimate of this service, please contact our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166.

How much sample do I need to provide for my testing requirements?

Symbio Laboratories requires the following minimum quantity for testing:

Microbiology Testing

  • 100grams of the sample

Chemistry Testing

  • 200grams of the sample
  • An additional 250grams for vitamin C testing
  • A minimum of 1kg or 5 large pieces is for pesticide residue analysis (Fruit and Vegetable)

If your product packaging is bigger than the minimum sample requirement, then it will be okay to submit, however, should the sample package be smaller than the minimum requirement, then you will need to send additional samples to cover the minimum testing requirements.

If you require both Microbiology and Chemistry testing on the same product, then it is recommended that you send a separate sample for each, or a total of 300grams. This will ensure that your sample is processed as fast as possible.

What is the proper sampling technique to ensure I get the best results? Compositing Vs. Individual Testing.

If your production run takes eight (8) hours and you produce 20,000 units, then taking one (1) sample of the line will not give you a clear indication of what is happening during the production process. An example of this would be if you found E.coli in your product. Does this mean it has spread through all of your 20,000 units or could it be an isolated incident?

It is recommended to collect a number of samples through the production run. A good starting point would be to collect three (3) samples from the start of the run, three (3) samples from the middle of the run and another three (3) from the end of the run. This will give you a total of nine (9) samples from across the entire production process. By submitting these samples with a time stamp, you will be able to investigate any abnormal result much easier.

Composite testing is used to keep costs down while giving you a detailed ‘picture’ of the production line. Using the above example, the three (3) samples collected at each time point could be combined to form one (1) at the start, one (1) in the middle and one (1) at the end of the run totaling three (3) samples overall. This method of compositing will help you understand the true variance across the production run and allow for a truly average NIP result.

How can I get sample jars/bags and swabs for testing?

You can contact your Account Manager, the Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, or email They will be able to supply you with your consumable requirements.

Testing FAQs

I forgot to include an ARF with my samples. Will the samples still be tested?

No. Testing cannot proceed without a signed Analysis Request Form (ARF).

Is it possible to get results earlier than close of business on the due date?

The due date is set depending on the turnaround time. If an urgent turnaround is required, contact your Account Manager, or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, to discuss options.

Is there an additional cost associated with accelerated testing?

Yes. Reducing the turnaround time incurs an additional accelerated testing fee which is listed in our Terms and Conditions.

Please also note that accelerated testing is subject to laboratory demands so contact your Account Manager, or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, to determine if this can be accommodated.

I’ve received my results but realised I forgot to request an additional test. Will Symbio Laboratories still have the sample?

Samples are retained for a limited period, so contact our Customer Service Department on 1300 703 166 to determine if they are still available.

Can I get my Shelf Life test accelerated?

Please contact your Account Manager, or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, to assist you with you requirements.

What is included in the Nutritional Information Panel (NIP) package?

Can Microbiology testing be done in an accelerated time frame?

Unfortunately not all Microbiological testing can be accelerated.

Speak with your Account Manager, or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, to see if accelerated testing is available for your specific testing requirement.

Why do I need to test my products?

Microbiology and Chemical testing do not have a one size fit all test.

The test required on your product/s will be different to tests required by others and will be dependent on a number of factors:

  • What the product is (eg Bread, meat (cooked or raw), beverage, fruit and vegetable, confectionery, grain etc)
  • Based on the product type, are there any regulatory requirements for test i.e. does the FSANZ Food Standards Code specify what you need to test for?
  • Why are you doing the test? Is this a new product development, customer requirement, regulatory/HACCP – perhaps all? Are there any tests you MUST have done?
  • How is the product produced and packaged?
  • Are there any preservatives used in manufacturing of the product(s)?

Once you have addressed these questions, contact your Account Manager or our Customer Service department so we can guide you through the rest of the process.

Who can I contact for my testing or quotation needs?

If you already have an Account Manager allocated, then you can contact them directly.

Alternatively, you can contact our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166 or email

What do the following terms mean?

LOR – Limit of Reporting

ND – Not Detected

TAT – Turn Around Time

RP – Result Pending

~ – estimated Count

GC – Gas chromatography

LCMS – Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry

GCMS – Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry

HRLCMS – High Resolution Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry

TBA – To Be Advised

NATA – National Association of Testing Authorities

MPN- Most Probable Number

CFU – Colony Forming Unit

DWB – Dry Weight Basis

HPLC – High Pressure Liquid chromatography

UHPLC – Ultra High Pressure Liquid chromatography

ARF – Analysis Request Form

SRN – Sample Receipt Notification

Can Symbio Laboratories test my water to see if it suitable for drinking?

Yes, we can, but it depends on how much testing is required. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines list over 500 tests that can be conducted which can be quite expensive. If the sample is rain water then the main consideration is bacterial contamination from the roof or the rain water tank.

Bacterial testing requires analysis for Heterotrophic Plate Count (Total bacterial count), Total Coliforms and E.coli.

Chemically, rain water is quite pure as it is essentially distilled water. The only contaminant likely to be present would be derived from the roof or rain water tank. In this scenario, Symbio Laboratories would suggest testing for heavy metals such as Copper, Lead, Zinc, Cadmium Iron, Aluminium and Manganese.

Rain water can also be corrosive as it contains little-dissolved solids (classified as soft water) and will try to dissolve any surfaces that it comes in contact with such as rain water tanks and pipework. Rain water can often appear green when it comes out of taps connected to copper pipes. That is because the water dissolves the pipework turning the water green. Copper pipes can eventually dissolve from the inside causing leaks. To determine if the water is corrosive, we recommend analysis for pH and alkalinity.

For more information regarding your water testing needs, simply speak to your Account Manager or contact our Customer Service department who can guide you through the process.

As a butcher, what types of tests do I need to do?

The list below shows the most common test requested by butchers:

  • CF080.1 – Nutritional Panel (Protein, Fat Profile, Moisture, Ash, Sugar, Na, Carbs, Energy)
  • CF020.3 – Nitrate & Nitrite as Sodium (Na) Nitrite (Total Nitrite)
  • CF027.2 – Sulphur Dioxide (Sodium Metabisulphite)
  • CF032 – Water Activity
  • M13.4.1mono – Listeria mono (+ve/-ve) by VIDAS
  • M16.4 – Salmonella by VIDAS 25g
  • M18.1 – Coagulase +ve Staph <100 LOR
  • M8.3.3 – E. coli – MPN
  • M2.5 – Standard Plate Count (SPC)
  • M2.1W2 – Heterotrophic count – potable water
  • Consumables like QSwabs for surface swabbing can be ordered from Symbio Laboratories

For more information about your specific meat testing requirements, simply speak with our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166 who can guide you through this process.

As a fruit & vegetable grower, what types of tests do I need to do?

The list below shows the most common tests requested by Fruit and Vegetable growers and producers.

Fruit and Vegetable

  • CR006.2 – Multi-residue screen – (equivalent to Fresh test C3)
  • CR011 – Extended residue screen (equivalent to Fresh test C6 (C3+C5))
  • CR007 – Dithiocarbamates
  • MA1 – E.coli (Petrifilm)
  • M2C – Salmonella (Vidas), E.coli (Petrifilm)
  • MA2 – Listeria Spp (Vidas), E.coli (Petrifilm)
  • MA3 – Salmonella (Vidas), E.coli (Petrifilm), Listeria spp (Vidas)
  • MA4 -coli & Faecal coli (MPN), Listeria mono (VIDAS), Staph, Salmonella (VIDAS)
  • ESM-1 – Cadmium or Lead (1 element)
  • ESM-2 – Cadmium + Lead (2 elements)


  • M2.1W2 – Special Plate Count (SPC) – (22oC, 37oC)
  • M8.5.1 & M8.5.2 – Coliforms, TT Faecal Coliforms
  • M85.1 & M8.5.2 & M8.5.3 – Coliforms, TT Faecal Coli, E.coli

To discuss your specific testing requirements, simply contact your Account Manager or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166 who can guide you through this process.

Transport FAQs

How do I package and transport sample to Symbio Laboratories?

The integrity of samples needs to be maintained during transit. If you have a chilled or frozen sample, pack it in an esky with plenty of ice bricks to maintain the temperature (for chilled product around 5°C) and seal the container (Guidelines for Packing an Esky). Most companies send samples to us via courier or you can drop-off the samples at your local Symbio Laboratories branch.  We can also organise to provide you with an esky with a pre-paid consignment note (contact our Customer Service team for this option).

Analysis Results FAQs

How do I receive my results?

A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is sent via email by Symbio Laboratories once all analyses have been performed. The contact person listed on the ARF will receive the CoA via email. Companies can also access their results through our eResults platform E-RESULTS. If you are yet to register for this service, please contact our Customer Service team for access.

Is it possible to get results earlier than close of business on the due date?

If an urgent turnaround is required, contact your Account Manager, or our Customer Service department on 1300 703 166, to discuss options.

What do I do if my product tests POSITIVE for Listeria or Salmonella?

Regulatory requirements are different for each state and territory. Please contact the relevant authority in your jurisdiction for more information.