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FOOD SAFETY

FSSAI mandates trained food safety supervisors for all licenced FBOs
Thursday, 05 September, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Mohammad Shareef, Shaikh Uzma A and Abrar Khan
Need for Food Testing
Food analysis or testing is the discipline dealing with the development, application & study of analytical procedures for characterising the properties of foods and their constituents. All food products whether raw or processed are analysed to provide information about a wide variety of different characteristics, including their composition, structure, physicochemical properties and sensory attributes. The food is analysed for several reasons, e.g., compliance with legal & labelling requirements, assessment of product quality, determination of nutritive value, detection of adulteration, research & development.

Food testing serves as a unique and invaluable tool for all food scientists, technologists and regulatory authorities for quality assurance and control of food products, to study the different aspects of food products.

Food is a complex matrix consisting of different components. These components can be categorised into different categories which are listed as given below:
    1. Nutrients: e.g., Proteins, Amino acids, Total cholesterol, Trans fats & Lipid profile, Carbohydrates. Sugars, Dietary fibre, Vitamins, Minerals and so on. Depending upon the food product some of them may be present at high concentration levels while others may be present at low concentration levels of parts per million.
    2. Additives: e.g., Colours, Dyes, Stabilisers, Antioxidants, Flavours & Fragrance, Preservatives and so on.
             The additives are added to the food products for the purpose of giving the food products desired appearance, texture, flavour and extension to the shelf life. The additives are usually present at very low concentration levels.
    3. Adulterants: They are added intentionally to the food products mostly for the purpose of cost benefits and they may be present at higher as well as lower amounts. They may be safe or sometimes highly toxic, such as, argemone in mustard oil, sudan red in chillies, animal cholesterol in ghee, low cost vegetable oil in high cost vegetable oil and so on.
4.  Contaminants & Toxicants: Toxicants can be classified into:
a) Physical toxicants- e.g., glass, wood, metal, insect matter and so on
    b) Biological toxicants- e.g., microbes & pathogens
c) Chemical toxicants- e.g., residual pesticides, residual antibiotics, mycotoxins & environmental pollutants like PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls), Dioxins, toxic metals and so on

Most of the times these contaminants are not added intentionally but find their way into the food products from environmental pollution or if proper practices are not being followed during agriculture, animal breeding, storage or processing. The various toxicants are present at low levels of concentration and if present beyond a certain prescribed level of concentration in food products may prove to be highly toxic or carcinogenic to humans.

Accreditation of Food Laboratory
Accreditation: It is a procedure by which the accrediting body gives formal recognition that a laboratory or an organisation is competent to carry out specific tasks.

Food lab accreditation certifies that a lab is using the best test tools and methods for the need and performing those tests correctly under ideal conditions.

Laboratory accreditation provides formal recognition of competent laboratories, thus providing a ready means for customers to find reliable testing and calibration services in order to meet their demands. Laboratory accreditation enhances customer confidence in accepting testing / calibration reports issued by accredited laboratories.

In India, accreditation of laboratory is done by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). NABL is an autonomous body under the aegis of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. NABL provides laboratories accreditation services to laboratories that are performing tests / calibrations in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. Hence the laboratories will be required to establish and implement full systems as per the requirements of ISO 17025 and the specific criteria as per NABL 102 (Microbiology) and NABL 103 (Chemical) within a period of one year.

Criterion for Accreditation of Food Laboratories
The technical criteria common to testing of both chemical and microbiological parameters
Note 1: The term used throughout this document indicates those provisions which are mandatory in nature. The term is used to indicate guidance which, although not mandatory, is provided as a means of meeting the requirements of the approval criteria. In case the laboratories use an alternative means of meeting the requirements, they would have to provide suitable and adequate justification.
Note 2: The laboratory shall be required to establish documents in the form of manual, procedures, work instructions and so on wherever the criteria has referred to a documented procedure or system. In all other cases, the laboratory shall be required to demonstrate compliance to the requirements of the criteria. However, even in these cases the laboratories are encouraged to document their system.    

Food Certification
Food safety certification is third-party verification that products, processes or systems in the food supply chain meet accepted food safety standards. It is distinct from other systems of proof of conformity such as supplier declarations, laboratory test reports or inspection body reports.

Under the Article of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, (Food Safety and Standards (Licensing / Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2009, lays down licensing and registration conditions which are compulsory for any food business. Any person desirous to commence or carry on any food business shall make an application to grant of a licence to the designated officer along with fees. In case a licence is not issued within two months from the date of making the completed application or his application is not rejected, the applicant may start his food business after expiry of the said period. The provision of obtaining a licence for carrying on any food business shall not apply to a petty retailer, hawker, itinerant vendor or a temporary stall holder or small scale or cottage or such other industries relating to food business or tiny food business operator. But they shall have to register themselves with the registering authority.

Registration required for the food business operator, who –
    • Manufactures or sells any article of food himself or a petty retailer, hawker, itinerant vendor or temporary stall holder; or
    • Such food business including small scale or cottage or tiny food businesses with an annual turnover not exceeding Rs 12 lakh and or whose-
    I. Production capacity of food (other than milk and milk products and meat and meat products) does not exceed 100 kg/ltr per day or
    II. Production or procurement or collection of milk is up to 100 litre of milk per day or
    III. Slaughtering capacity is 2 large animals or 10 small animals or 50 poultry birds per day or less than that

Licences to be granted by Central Licensing Authority Schedule 1
    • Dairy units including milk chilling units equipped to handle or process more than 50 thousand litre of liquid milk/day or 2,500 MT of milk solid per annum.
    • Vegetable oil processing units and units producing vegetable oil by the process of solvent extraction and refineries including oil expeller unit having installed capacity more than 2 MT per day. All slaughter houses equipped to slaughter more than 50 large animals or 150 or more small animals including sheep and goats or 1,000 or more poultry birds per day.
    • Meat processing units equipped to handle or process more than 500 kg of meat per day or 150 MT per annum.
    • All food processing units other than mentioned under (I) to (IV) including relabellers and repackers having installed capacity more than 2 MT/day except grains, cereals and pulses milling units.
    • 100% Export Oriented Units (vii) All Importers importing food items for commercial use.
    • All Food Business Operators manufacturing any article of Food which does not fall under any of the food categories prescribed under these regulations or deviates in any way from the prescribed specification for additives therein.
    • Retail chains operating in three or more states.
    • Food catering services in establishments and units under Central government agencies like railways, air and airport, seaport, and defence.
Proposed Procedure for Registration of Food Businesses


Proposed Procedure for Grant of Licence to Food Business

Reference: FSSAI

Food Safety Training Certification
FSSAI recommends that all licensed food businesses must have at least one trained and certified food safety supervisor under FoSTaC for every 25 food handlers in each premise.
    
Reference: FSSAI


(Shareef, Shaikh is M Tech student and Khan is technical Halal auditor, M Tech, Department of Safety and Microbiology, College of Food Technology, Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidhiyapeeth)
 
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