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Food safety is highly prioritized by industry stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and consumers across India. It is a matter of concern for everyone. Food testing and analysis of food samples are essential to food safety. Food business operators are required to undergo compliance based testing periodically. The FSSAI Act contains provisions for the establishment of laboratory testing under FSSAI.
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As per a study on Food Testing Laboratories in India, there are around 600 Food Testing Laboratories. These laboratories include all NABL accredited laboratories, including those owned by the private sector, FBOs, state/central government, FSSAI notified laboratories, etc.
Other than these labs, there is another group of Food Testing Laboratories, which includes small players and a larger pool of food testing labs that exists with the FBOs to carry out tests for raw materials and finished goods.
To ensure that the quality and safety of food products is maintained, food sampling or analysis of food can be ordered and done by an FSSAI office. For food testing, a sample food product is drawn, packed, and sealed. Then it is sent to an authorized lab for laboratory testing under FSSAI where the food products quality and safety is checked.
The following procedure is followed during the sample collection process:
a) The sealed container in one part is sent to the food analyst;b) The second and third part of the samples is sent to the designated officer;c) The fourth part of the sample is sent to an accredited laboratory along with the prescribed fees.
It may be noted that on receipt of the food sample, such authorised FSSAI laboratory shall analyse the quality and safety of the food product and then pass the final verdict on the same.
Food testing and analysis is necessary for the safekeeping of the food ecosystem. It assures that the food is safe for consumption. This includes strengthening the network of food testing laboratories, investing in human resources, assuring the quality of food testing, and educating consumers.
These food laboratories test the food samples and check whether the food is safe for human consumption. It assures the public about the safety of food that they consume and whether the food business operator adheres to hygienic measures. In case there is any harmful substance in the food sample, then it can be easily detected through food testing measures.
Therefore food testing labs have a crucial role to play in the decision making process by generating analytical data and safety data, which is essential for the food business operators, FSSAI, and consumers as well.
Food testing labs provide services that:
As per the Food and Safety Standards Act, testing of food articles is to be conducted once in six months through NABL accredited, or FSSAI notified lab.
The laboratories conducting laboratory testing Under FSSAI should have implemented and maintained Quality management system. The applicant laboratory shall have adequate capability and competence for food testing safety and quality parameters.
The applicant laboratory should be NABL accredited, or it should be accredited by other such agencies. The laboratory should have sufficient trained and experienced set of staffs that handle the testing jobs. The laboratory should have at least one qualified food analyst, and the laboratories having qualified food analyst will be given preference. The laboratory for recognition as Level 1, Level 2, and referral laboratories is required to have all equipments for testing under their scope of recognition.
FSSAI has prescribed penalties for selling, distributing, or manufacturing unsafe food; therefore, every food business operator is required to go through the whole process of laboratory testing under FSSAI. It is essential considering the safety of human health. Food testing also helps in knowing what type of nutrients and minerals are there in different foods.
Read our article:All you need to know about FSSAI Product Approval
Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.
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