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 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 gives advice to Government and the wider community dependent on analytical science.
The Laboratory of the Government Chemist was privatised in 1996 and renamed LGC. Today LGC is owned by funds affiliated with KKR.
Since privatisation, LGC has significantly expanded its activities. Employee numbers have risen from 270 in 1996 to about 2,600 in 2017, as the company has grown organically and through multiple acquisitions. Significant acquisitions since 1996 include: KBioscience, AGOWA, Forensic Alliance Limited, Mikromol, Promochem, University Diagnostics Ltd, HFL, ARMI, VHG Labs, Quotient Bioanalytical Sciences, Dr Ehrenstorfer, Biosearch Technologies, Thistle QA, Maine Standards, Prime Synthesis, immunosuppressive proficiency testing (PT) scheme from ASI, BRC Global Standards and o2si ; and the outsourcing of analytical services from BNG and Sentinel Performance Solutions.