Questions and LabNote 50

Why can’t I use a Ziploc for submissions? (and other excellent questions about submission containers)

 Melanie Barham, Jim Fairles 

   We love receiving samples in the best possible condition, as it truly helps to improve our ability to provide our clients with useful answers. Below, we’ve addressed some of the most common packaging errors seen:

Why do I need to use a Whirl-Pak bag? Won’t a zipper sandwich bag do?

Whirl-Paks are preferred because they are sterile inside, which is particularly important if submitting tissue for bacteriology culture. Whirl-Paks also don’t leak in the same way zippered sandwich bags do. Although they may leave your clinic in optimal condition, often samples packed in sandwich bags leak in transit. Whirl-Paks also comply with Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations. Have new staff who have never used Whirl-Paks? Check out our handy video:

How should I submit my fecal samples?

Although we all love surprises, being surprised with a fecal matter explosion when opening a box of samples is not as much fun as it might sound. We appreciate receiving samples in screw-top containers. Red-top tubes often pop their lids due to gas-producing microbes, and gloves with feces in the fingers takes a significant amount of excess processing time (delaying your results), and they often burst or leak. We are pleased to provide fecal containers for purchase, although sterile urine containers, mastitis sampling jars, or other sterile plastic screw top containers are also acceptable.

What samples frequently arrive broken or in poor quality?

Glass vials! Blood tubes often arrive broken or cracked. A simple fix to this is to wrap a piece of newsprint, paper towel, or bubble wrap between vials.

Formalin jars! Formalin jars arrive leaking quite frequently. This can be a problem for the individuals couriering the samples, and often delays your samples as submission forms can become illegible if liquid leaks on them. A simple fix is to seal jars tightly, wrap in Parafilm or tape, and wrap in bubble wrap.

Submission forms! Submission forms should be packaged separately from samples in case of leakage. Consider using the outside pocket of the laboratory zipper seal bag (it’s not just there for decoration!), or placing the submission form in a different zipper seal bag for multiple samples. We also offer online submission forms that can be filled out from any mobile device or desktop to save you paperwork. AHL

LabNote 50 - Postmortem submissions via courier  

Jim Fairles, Jen Zoethout

AHL realizes that, because of distance, not everyone can drive to our labs in Guelph or Kemptville to drop off bodies for postmortem. AHL will accept bodies for postmortem via courier – precautions need to be taken.

Please see our submission instructions:

Postmortem submissions also need to abide by the following

* Use AHL’s Purolator return waybill – “Animal Specimen Exempt” should be on the label.

* Pack in an impervious container (e.g., Rubbermaid container and triple bag with cold packs). Leaks must be avoided.

* Call 519-824-4120 ext 54530 or email ( AHL with submission tracking number to give heads-up that samples are arriving.

* Ship Monday to Wednesday for next-day delivery to avoid weekend delays.

Because of the weight, courier costs for these shipments are considerably higher than normal sample packages delivered to AHL.

Food animal courier costs will be waived. However, we will charge back some of the courier cost for companion animal shipments over 5 kg. $25 per each 20 kg - new test code xtrnpm. This charge will be added to the invoice for the case.   AHL