LGC’s origins can be traced back to 1842, when the Laboratory of the Board of Excise was founded in the City of London, to regulate the adulteration of tobacco which was prohibited under the recent Pure Tobacco Act.
Work to protect Government revenue continued to be the Board’s main occupation until 1875 when the laboratory was appointed ‘referee analyst’ under the new Sale of Food and Drugs Act. This was a landmark in legislation as it was specifically designed to protect the consumer rather than the revenue by ensuring, for example, that milk had not been watered down.
To this day, LGC hosts the unique function of the ‘Government Chemist’, providing expert opinion, based on independent chemical and bioanalytical measurement to help avoid or resolve disputes pertaining to food and agriculture, and advice to Government and the wider community dependent on analytical science.
LGC was founded in 1996 following the privatisation of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. Today LGC is owned by the management and staff and funds managed by the investment group Bridgepoint.
Since privatisation, LGC has significantly expanded its activities. Employee numbers have risen from 270 in 1996 to about 2,000 in 2013, as the company has grown organically and through multiple acquisitions. A number of significant acquisitions since 1996 include: KBioscience, AGOWA, Forensic Alliance Limited, Mikromol, Promochem, University Diagnostics Ltd, HFL, ARMI, VHG Labs and Quotient Bioanalytical Sciences; and the outsourcing of analytical services from BNG and Sentinel Performance Solutions.
LGC operates out of 22 countries, with laboratories and centres across Europe and the US, as well as sites in Brazil, China and India.