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July 29, 2015
There has been a lot of discussion within the industry recently about ramping up quality, with the recurring lament, “but how do we afford it?” Well, here’s a fact to answer that question: Labs cost a whole lot less than lawyers.
Having friends who grew up to become lawyers, I remember hearing the phrase, “there is a special place in hell for lawyers,” and wondering, “what's that about?” As I've grown up building my company, Alkemist Labs, I have had my share of interactions with lawyers, both positive and negative. They are always expensive.
Early on in Alkemist’s history, a large retailer who, after they were sued, went down the supply chain suing everyone even remotely involved with their products, including us. We allegedly tested and passed an ingredient that they allegedly used that wasn't what they thought, which got them sued. Long story short: $15,000 later we were cleared from the case. That relatively small fee was only for my attorney to talk with their attorneys, which put that cliché about lawyers and hell in a different perspective for me.
The fact is, lawyers are today's business bodyguards or unfortunate bullies, and if you don't have a good one, stop reading this and find one right now, because failing to plan is planning to fail, to use another cliché.
I find more meaning today than ever before in that last cliché. In my business we act as the gatekeepers to quality. It is up to us, and by us, I mean all of you, to test the bad products, bad players and the resulting bad media, out of the market. We can do that, really.... It just takes increasing the budget for quality assurance.
With consumer trust eroding on a magnitude never seen before, it's more important than ever to revisit that healthy profit margin you have enjoyed all this time, take a big gulp of reality and accept that it's high time to increase compliance, increase testing and increase quality. If you don't, somewhere out there is a team of high-powered, well-dressed and high-priced lawyers working diligently to sue you and your company for any of the various offenses to which the lack of a robust testing program makes you vulnerable.
With that in mind I can tell you that all the third-party testing labs in this industry and all the internal labs in this industry cost far less (I mean A LOT LESS) than do the lawyers waiting to talk to each other on your dime.
So step it up, industry, and get your quality assured. If you don’t care to do it for the future sustainability of the industry, do it to save yourself a fortune in legal bills.
CEO, Alkemist Labs
Élan M. Sudberg is CEO of Alkemist Labs, a passionately committed contract testing laboratory specializing in plant and fungal identity, potency and purity testing for the food, beverage, nutraceutical and psychedelic industries. His favorite part of his job is catching cheaters, and he is known for pushing the industry to continually raise the bar on quality and transparency. Élan holds a degree in chemistry from California State University Long Beach, and he is on the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) board of trustees.
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