Science & Research

Volume III - 2.3 Custodial Receipt and Storage of Samples

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Other Laboratory Operations
Food and Drug Administration



Section 2 - Chain of Custody - Sample Handling




Samples are delivered to the FDA laboratory receiving area, (e.g. FedEx®, UPS®, Airborne®, FDA or state personnel, and other private courier).

Any chain of custody form (e.g. from the Office of Criminal Investigations) received with the sample follows the sample records throughout the laboratory.

It is the responsibility of the person receiving physical custody of the sample to initiate the original record of sample receipt. The Sample Custodian receives the majority of samples delivered to the laboratory. Occasionally, an analyst or supervisor may receive a sample into the laboratory. Only those designated with the FACTS or LIMS sample custodial role may electronically receive and sign for the laboratory receipt of the sample within FACTS or LIMS. If the sample is received in the laboratory by someone who does not possess the role of Sample Custodian, the receipt of the sample must be documented.

If FACTS or LIMS is unavailable (e.g. computer server is down) at the time of laboratory receipt of the sample, the laboratory uses its Computer Contingency Plan in order to document sample receipt and handling operations.

All samples should be kept in their original shipping container until ready to be entered into FACTS or LIMS by the Sample Custodian. Frozen samples should be priority to avoid thawing. Sample packages are inspected during laboratory receipt processing to assure the following:

  • physical condition is satisfactory,
  • official seal (if present) is unbroken, and
  • identification on the sample package matches that described in the accompanying records and/or in the FACTS "Collection Report" record.

Immediate action is taken to document and reconcile any discernible abnormalities and/or discrepancies such as the following:

  • conflicting sample numbers,
  • broken seals,
  • breakage, and
  • leakage or thawing.

Abnormalities and/or discrepancies are documented using the Laboratory's Complaint/Corrective Action procedures. The sample is placed on hold pending resolution of the non-conformance.

The Sample Custodian (or designee) completes laboratory receipt and custodial storage of the sample by recording the relevant information in the FACTS or LIMS “Lab Receipt of Sample” record.

Stored samples are provided the physical security measures as described in the Section Controlled Area and Section 2.2.3 Environmental Storage Conditions for Samples.

Page Last Updated: 07/14/2015
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