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quality control laboratory needed for food processing in each FBO unit

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment

Just like any other industry, food industry too strives to satisfy the customer with quality and safety of food products. In order to achieve this, the food industry needs to assure the quality of their product. Quality assurance comes from quality control, which is essentially how you control the various specifications laid down on the processing and the product. For example, the colour of the tomato paste is normally assured by measuring the Hunter colour values using a Hunter colorimeter and shall meet the laid down a/b value. This way of conforming makes it universal and enables the industry to produce uniform quality product.
Need for QC Lab in every FBO unit
It is a morally bound duty of every FBO to have a quality control laboratory in his/her unit to test the basic critical quality parameters of product before releasing in the market. External testing and monitoring day to day production is next to impossible and would also be very costly.
Moreover, the risk of getting bad results and thus releasing an unsafe food product to the consumer would also increase in case of a frequent external laboratory testing. It is also recommended to compare the external laboratory test results with the in-house testing. In-house testing facility would also increase the FBO confidence and reduce customer complaints in future. In-house laboratory would also help in developing products/ processes to improve customer satisfaction. In house quality control laboratory helps in successfully implementing a quality plan.
Making a Quality Plan
In order to achieve good quality control and further good quality assurance, it is necessary to have a well laid out quality plan, just like a building plan for the successful construction of a good building! Quality plan is essentially a plan to control quality of raw materials (including packing materials), in process products or work in process stocks, the finished product and the process steps. Quality plan specifies laid down specifications with allowances, how to sample, how to test (physical, chemical, microbiological, sensory parameters), frequency of monitoring, how to take care of deviations, most of the international standards like ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, and BRC suggest/ demand a quality plan for successful implementation of the Food Safety Management System. Work instructions for conducting tests shall be drawn accordingly.
It is necessary that our legal regulatory body FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) stresses on this aspect of quality plan before allowing the Food Business Operator (FBO) to start manufacturing the product.
Basic Instruments in QC Lab
Once the specifications are laid down based on the legal and customer requirements, the testing methods are drawn and suitable laboratory instruments are identified. One must select proper instruments – suitable for its operating conditions. There are many small scale food industries manufacturing various food products without the basic quality control instruments and testing procedures. In my experience, I have seen many fruit and vegetable product industries, manufacturing jams, syrups, pickles and so on, do not have specifications, no basic laboratory instruments like proper thermometer, hand refractometer, pH meter or acidity testing facilities.
This is very dangerous as the Critical Control Points (CCPs) of the processes are not monitored. Whether they adopt HACCP – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points – or not, the process has CCPs which need to be monitored for assuring safe product to the consumers. Any small scale food industry before starting the manufacturing, must know its Critical Control Points and must acquire the necessary quality control laboratory instruments and methods to monitor the CCPs.
As we all know, safe food is free from physical, chemical and biological hazards. The specification laid down by the FBO shall cover the risks from these hazards.  Accordingly the testing methods shall be drawn and necessary measuring instruments shall be available for testing. For example, proper sieves shall be available in the quality control laboratory of a flour mill to check the presence of physical hazards in the product before passing for dispatch. Of course, a good dial thermometer in the quality control laboratory will check the pasteurisation temperature in a small dairy – eliminating the probability of pathogenic microorganism in the milk product.
Many food industries are having HPLC (not required) but not proper thermometers or pH meters. Small FBOs, making beverages add synthetic colours – FSSAI permits 100ppm – means 100mg in one kg product – their total production quantity may be 50 kg – most of the FBOs do not have that sensitive weighing scales to weigh out milligram of colours, excess colour is harmful to the consumers’ health! Small scale FBOs may not be able to carry out microbiological examinations to ascertain biological hazards but shall get them done periodically through public health laboratory or private laboratory. However, efforts shall be made to include microbiological examination facility at the earliest!
As food fraud is becoming more and more among the suppliers – both raw material and finished product, it is necessary to have the facilities in the laboratory to check for adulteration in the incoming materials. Many hotels even today, when there is so much of adulteration in milk, do not have the facility to do basic adulteration tests in the purchased milk – imagine the health risks for the consumers from this!
Calibration of Instruments
It is also imperative to calibrate these instruments periodically by a NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited laboratory. This is very important as the not calibrated or wrong calibration of the instruments would increase the probability of releasing a unsafe food product from the FBO. Day to day in-house calibration of the instruments is equally necessary to monitor the accuracy of the test results. Side by side, this is validated by testing the products by external laboratories and comparing with the in-house test results.
Operation of QC Laboratory
Good Laboratory Practice is one of the pre-requisite programmes in the Food Safety Management System. Once the quality control laboratory is in operation, it is very important to link the quality control with quality assurance – so that the resultant effect completely satisfies the consumer, assuring him/her the safe food product.
Not only skilled but also trained and systematic manpower in the quality control laboratory is one major requirement for this. Consistency in results is very important. Our regulatory agency FSSAI needs to take seriously the training of small scale FBO personnel in basic quality control methods apart from food safety awareness. Awareness in the international specifications and requirements is also necessary in case the FBO is engaged in exports. There shall not be any compromise on quality aspects in releasing the product. I have seen many a times, the FBO quality control laboratory releases the product, the importer rejects the consignment due to poor quality – a third external laboratory testing conforms the importer’s testing resulting in a huge loss to the FBO. Strict quality control laboratory ensures good quality assurance to the consumer. Day to day cut-out reports are necessary and should be monitored.
Sensory Evaluation Laboratory
Food product is always enjoyed by the consumer by his basic sensory attributes – so the food product shall be ready to satisfy his sensory needs. Sensory evaluation of the final product is necessary before releasing to the market. Every FBO, even if it’s a small scale, shall have a Sensory Evaluation Testing done in his quality control laboratory. Central institutes like Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, conducts training in sensory evaluation testing methods.

QC Lab and Handling of Customer Complaints

A good quality control laboratory will be able to handle properly a customer complaint and would help in preventing the recurrence of any defects in future. Any customer complaint can be analysed both in the document and physical testing, defects found out and rectified and prevented from further recurrence. E.g., Simple testing of pH, per cent acidity, and temperature of cooking during the manufacturing of jam data would enable to analyse and verify the customer complaint. This will increase the confidence in the FBO in giving the right product to the customer and also a good business in future.
It is needless to say that a good quality control laboratory is no less than the heart of the FBO manufacturing unit!

(The author is food safety and food processing consultant, Panjim, Goa. He can be contacted at rkayrjay@gmail.com)

Categories: NEWS

SC sends Maggi class suit case back to NCDRC; Demands tests on samples

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment

 

The Supreme Court of India has sent back the class suit case against Maggi to NCDRC and said that the tests on Maggi samples, conducted by the CFTRI, will form the base for the hearing.
“The apex court, in its order, has backed Nestle’s claim that the test done by CFTRI (the Central Food Technological Research Institute) should be the basis for deciding the lawsuit filed by the ministry of consumer affairs through the NCDRC (National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission),” said Nestle in a statement released here.
Nestlé India had challenged class suit filed at the NCDRC before the Supreme Court in 2015.  
“As per the directions of the Supreme Court, samples were sent to CFTRI and the analysis results showed that samples were compliant for lead and other relevant parameters,” the statement read.
NCDRC has directed Nestle to conduct more tests on Maggi.
The statement said, “As per the lawyers who appeared for Nestle, the Supreme Court has directed that the reports received from CFTRI will be the basis for proceedings before NCDRC. Full details will be known only after receipt of the order by the company.”
However, the bench did direct the advocate representing Nestle why there should be any amount of lead present in the product.
The consumer affairs ministry had, in 2015, filed a complaint against Nestle India Ltd, and sought damages of Rs 640 crore for alleged unfair trade practices, that include false labelling and misleading advertisements.
The apex court had, on December 6, 2015, stayed the proceedings before the commission and directed the CFTRI, Mysuru, to conduct a test and submit its report before the bench.
Meanwhile, when the lawyers arguing for Nestle said that the matter before NCDRC be quashed, the SC said that CFTRI report be evaluated by the NCDRC in the complaint before it, and it will not be appropriate for this court to preempt the jurisdiction of NCDRC.
“All the rights and contentions of the parties will remain open,” the bench said.
The ministry had filed a complaint against the Nestle for causing harm to Indian consumers by allegedly indulging in unfair trade practices and false labelling related to the Maggi noodles it sold in the country.
In the same year, FSSAI (the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), the country’s apex food regulator, banned Maggi noodles after it found an excess level of lead in samples and termed it as unsafe and hazardous for human consumption.
It was for the first time that the government had taken action under Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act, under which both the Centre and states have powers to file complaints.
Nestle had to withdraw its instant noodles from the market over allegations of high lead content and presence of MSG (monosodium glutamate) in the year 2015.

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI issues guidance note on irradiated foods safety; busts myths around it

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment

FSSAI has issued a guidance note on irradiated food titled Irradiated Food is Safe – Busting Myths Around It. It aims at making Food Business Operators (FBOs) understand the technological benefits, safety and wholesomeness of irradiated foods.

The note has detailed information on irradiation technology, its benefits, food irradiation facilities in India, public perception, commercial prospects in India and use of irradiation technology globally.

Irradiation is a physical process in which food commodities like bulk or pre-packaged are exposed to controlled doses of energy of ionising radiation such as gamma rays or X-rays to achieve different technological objectives.
The note stresses on the fact that radiation technology can be termed as one process with multiple uses. The application of food irradiation on the basis of dose requirements like low, medium and high can help in extension of shelf-life, destruction of storage and quarantine insect pests, and killing of parasites, pathogens and spoilage microorganisms.

In India, regulations on radiation processing have been notified under Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2016. Further, as per FSS (Food Products Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, irradiated products are labelled and can be identified with the ‘Radura’ logo in a typical label:

In this regard, V P Venugopalan,head, nuclear agriculture and biotechnology division, associate director (A), bioscience group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, states, "Radiation processing of food and agricultural produce is a very underutilised technology as far as India is concerned. It can help the country cut down post-harvest losses in a significant way. There are lots of misconceptions regarding the safety of irradiated food among the general public; added to that there is a general shortage of adequate irradiation facilities."
He added, "The guidance note issued by FSSAI provides, in a nutshell, information about the usefulness of radiation processing as a safe, convenient and economic method of food preservation. It also contains a very useful FAQ section that explains, in simple language, what the whole idea of food irradiation is about."
According to the note, there has been a problem of perception with the radiation technology. The confusion begins with the general inability of people to differentiate between the process of irradiation and the radioactivity as a contaminant in food. It is important for public to know that radiation processing facilities have inbuilt safety features that prevent human exposure to radiation. Irradiated foods are available in several countries.
Food irradiation is permitted in more than 60 countries and the volume of food processed by radiation for value addition is increasing. China, followed by USA, is the major user of the technology. Spices, dry vegetable seasonings, meat and meat products, herbs and herbal products, fresh fruits and vegetables are currently the major commodity groups where irradiation technology is frequently used. In irradiated fresh fruits and vegetable category, USA (mainland) and New Zealand are the largest importers, while US (state of Hawaii), Australia, Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand, and India are the major exporters.

Categories: NEWS

Stop using recycled plastics, newspapers to wrap food items: FSSAI to food biz

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

The new regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

Food businesses need to comply with new packaging regulations that bar use of recycled plastics and newspapers to wrap food articles by July 1, regulator FSSAI said Thursday.

The new regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

Taking cognizance of the carcinogenic effect of inks and dyes, the norms also prohibit the use of newspaper and such other materials for packing or wrapping of food articles and includes respective Indian standard for printing inks for use on food packages.

"The new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level," Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said in a statement.

He also said that there would be "difficulties" in implementation of these regulations by the unorganised sector and therefore sufficient time has been given before the regulations come into force.

"The food businesses shall have to comply with these regulations by 1st July, 2019," he said.

Agarwal also mentioned that stakeholder’s consultation and mass awareness building amongst consumers and food businesses would precede implementation of the new packaging regulations.

Besides general and specific requirement with respect to packaging materials, the FSSAI said new regulations also prescribe overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials.

The regulations specify the suggestive list of packaging materials for different food product categories. As per these regulations, packaging materials used for packing or storing the food products should conform to the Indian standards provided in the schedules.

The new norms will replace all provisions with respect to packaging requirements prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. Recognising the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety, packaging regulations have been separated from labelling regulations.

The primary objective of packaging is to protect the food contents from micro-biological, chemical, physical and atmospheric contamination and preserve the food and thereby protect consumer’s health.

Good packaging also ensures that there is no change in sensory properties or composition of food when packed. Packaging is essential and critical for promoting food safety, extended shelf-life and thereby enhancing food security.

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI asks food biz to comply with new packaging norms by July 1

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

The new regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

New Delhi: Food businesses need to comply with new packaging regulations that bar use of recycled plastics and newspapers to wrap food articles by July 1, regulator FSSAI said on Thursday.

The new regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

Taking cognizance of the carcinogenic effect of inks and dyes, the norms also prohibit the use of newspaper and such other materials for packing or wrapping of food articles and includes respective Indian standard for printing inks for use on food packages.

“The new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level,” Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said in a statement.

He also said that there would be “difficulties” in implementation of these regulations by the unorganised sector and therefore sufficient time has been given before the regulations come into force.

“The food businesses shall have to comply with these regulations by 1st July, 2019,” he said.

Agarwal also mentioned that stakeholder’s consultation and mass awareness building amongst consumers and food businesses would precede implementation of the new packaging regulations.

Besides general and specific requirement with respect to packaging materials, the FSSAI said new regulations also prescribe overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials.

The regulations specify the suggestive list of packaging materials for different food product categories.

As per these regulations, packaging materials used for packing or storing the food products should conform to the Indian standards provided in the schedules.

The new norms will replace all provisions with respect to packaging requirements prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011.

Recognising the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety, packaging regulations have been separated from labelling regulations.

The primary objective of packaging is to protect the food contents from micro-biological, chemical, physical and atmospheric contamination and preserve the food and thereby protect consumer’s health.

Good packaging also ensures that there is no change in sensory properties or composition of food when packed. Packaging is essential and critical for promoting food safety, extended shelf-life and thereby enhancing food security.

Categories: NEWS

Keeping check on plastic ban

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

Categories: NEWS

Banned! Your food will not come in these materials; deadline imposed

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

"The new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level," Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said in a statement.

The new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level," Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said in a statement,

Food businesses need to comply with new packaging regulations that bar use of recycled plastics and newspapers to wrap food articles by July 1, regulator FSSAI said Thursday.

The new regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

Taking cognizance of the carcinogenic effect of inks and dyes, the norms also prohibit the use of newspaper and such other materials for packing or wrapping of food articles and includes respective Indian standard for printing inks for use on food packages.

"The new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level," Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said in a statement.

He also said that there would be "difficulties" in implementation of these regulations by the unorganised sector and therefore sufficient time has been given before the regulations come into force.

"The food businesses shall have to comply with these regulations by 1st July, 2019," he said.

Agarwal also mentioned that stakeholder’s consultation and mass awareness building amongst consumers and food businesses would precede implementation of the new packaging regulations.

Besides general and specific requirement with respect to packaging materials, the FSSAI said new regulations also prescribe overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials.

The regulations specify the suggestive list of packaging materials for different food product categories.

Categories: NEWS

Inspect organic shops: rights panel

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

Petitioner cites Minister’s statement

The State Human Rights Commission has ordered the government to conduct inspections in shops selling organic vegetables in the State for pesticide residues.

Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar had informed the Assembly that pesticide residues were detected in organic vegetable samples, the commission said on Friday.

Report in a month

Commission chairman Antony Dominic has asked the Food Safety Commissioner, Agriculture Secretary, and the State Police Chief to take the necessary measures and submit reports in a month.

The commission’s order was based on a petition filed by activist Ragam Rahim. There is increased dependence on shops selling organically cultivated vegetables and fruits with pesticide-ridden vegetables being blamed for causing lethal diseases like cancer, the petitioner said.

Thrice the price

Trusting consumers are willing to pay thrice the normal price for organic vegetables thinking them to be free of pesticides. If such vegetables indeed contain toxins, it is a violation of the right to live. Such shops should be closed down especially in a scenario where the Minister himself had informed the Assembly about the pesticide residues, Mr. Rahim said in his petition.

Replying to a question in the Assembly on December 11, Mr. Sunil Kumar had cited a report of the Pesticide Residue Research and Analytical Laboratory at Vellayani which said that 11.11% of samples collected from privately-run organic vegetable shops contained pesticide residues.

Categories: NEWS

Over 490 of 1,123 samples of packaged drinking water non-conforming to food safety norms, LS told

5,January, 2019 Leave a comment
 

As many as 496 of the total 1,123 samples of packaged drinking water analysed during 2017-18 were found to be non-conforming to the prescribed standards of the food safety norms, the Lok Sabha was informed Friday.

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said 246 cases were registered during the period in which conviction was ordered in 97 cases, while penalties were imposed in 135 cases.

In 2016-17, 697 samples were analysed, of which 224 were found to be violating the provisions under the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006 and cases was launched in 131 cases, Choubey said.

Of these, conviction was ordered in 33 cases and penalties were imposed in 40 cases, he said.

Instances of sale of packaged drinking water not meeting the prescribed standards have come to the notice of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

As the responsibility of enforcement of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006 primarily lies with states and Union Territories.

The commissioners of Food Safety of states and UTs have been advised by the FSSAI from time-to-time to undertake strict enforcement activities against unauthorised manufacture and sale of packaged drinking water without FSSAI/BIS mark in states and UT governments.

Further to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food, regular surveillance, monitoring, inspection and random sampling of food products, including packaged drinking water, are being carried out by officials of the Food Safety Departments of the respective states and Union Territories.

In cases where food samples are found non-conforming, recourse is taken to penal provisions specified under the FSS Act, 2006 which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Categories: NEWS