Friday, June 22, 2018


FSSAI prescribes revised microbiological standards for fishery products
Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in its recently-issued Gazette notification, has prescribed the revised microbiological requirements for fish and fishery products.

These regulations have prescribed the maximum permissible limits of hygiene and safety indicator organisms with varieties of fishery products.

Besides these, the notification has also laid down the sampling plan and reference test methods for microbiological testing.

These regulations will be known as the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Third Amendment Regulations, 2017. The Gazette standards were made available to the public in January 2016.

Madhukar Johar, expert, FSSAI, stated, “The regulations in Table 1A of the notification represent three categories - aerobic plate count, coagulase positive staphylococci and yeast and mold count.”

“The notification also states at which state the tests should be conducted to ensure that the foods are free from the contaminants which is a newly added feature,” he added.

“The notification has also stated for which respective type of test which test methods have to be followed. Table 1B of the notification lays down safety indicators for each bacteria separately,” Johar added.

Method of testing with respective criteria (from Table 1A)

Criteria for testing

Test method

Aerobic plate count

IS: 5402/ISO 4833

Coagulase positive


IS 5887 : Part 2

IS 5887 Part 8 (Sec 1)/

ISO : 6888-1

IS 5887 Part 8 (Sec 2)/ISO


Yeast and mold count

IS:5403/ISO 21527

The microbiological requirements for fish and fishery products have the sampling plan and the limits for fish products have been laid for microorganisms (Table 1B):

  • E coli
  • Salmonella
  • Vibriocholerae (O1 and O139)
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Clostridium botulinum
The categories of foods to which the standards are applicable include chilled/frozen finfish, chilled/frozen crustaceans, chilled/frozen cephalopods, live bivalve molluscs, chilled/frozen bivalves, frozen cooked crustaceans or frozen heat-shucked mollusca, dried or salted and dried fishery products, thermally processed fishery products, fermented fishery products, smoked fishery products, accelerated freeze-dried fishery products, fish mince/surimi and analogues, fish pickle, battered and breaded fishery products, convenience fishery products and powdered fish-based products.

Last year, the Central Institute of Fisheries and Technology (CIFT) conducted tests which came to a conclusion that 23.4 per cent of the 123 seafood samples were detected for the presence of E coli.

The presence of E coli led to severe diarrhoea in Ernakulam in the first five months, while 10,457 cases were registered with acute diarrhoea.

This shows that inappropriate handling of the seafood is in practice. That has to be streamlined with strict norms which can push food businesses to adopt safety mechanism.

Johar said, “CIFT had also recommended that seafood has to be regulated well with a habit of checking on safety.”

“Various stakeholders responded to the Gazette with their representations. Some of the fishery organisations claimed that there was a need for clear microbiological standards,” he added.

Meanwhile, the regulations will be enforced from January 1, 2018.
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