The contaminated food can lead to food poisoning and to ensure the food safety, the analysis of food is extremely important. Food contamination occurs due to viruses, bacteria, metals or chemicals. Food poisoning is generally caused due to bacterial contamination.
The classes of Bacteria associated with food poisoning are E coli, Staphylococci, Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Shigella. They can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, distress, diarrhea, dehydration, and also death. Hence, microbiological testing of food is important.
Every year, millions of people fall sick and die due to food poisoning. An outbreak of food poisoning is an alarm for improvement in food safety standards. Regulatory bodies assure the food processing standards at production, processing, packaging and storage stages and thus ensure public health. This helps the consumers to avoid food borne illnesses.
There are several ways of food contamination:
• Touching the food with unclean hands
• Contact of food with meat and poultry droppings
• Coughing and sneezing near the food without covering the mouth and nose
• Improper storage temperatures
• Leaving the food open
• Not washing of hands after toilet use and before food preparation.
It is essential for the food business operators to manufacture/sell a healthy and safe food for the consumers. From a business point, the food testing is advantageous as it is abiding the law, ensuring compliance with food safety regulations, providing safe food for the consumers and thereby earning a reputation.
There are many tests mandatory in food testing. For microbiological analyses of food the essential parameters are: Total Plate count, Coliform count, E.Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Yeast & Mould Count and Listeria Monocytogens.
As per Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, the food products have been categorized as following:
Some Common Testing Parameters for above mentioned products include Flat Sour Organisms, Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium Botulinum, E. Coli and Vibrio Cholera
The laboratory analyses can identify the micro-organisms present in food and thus can determine safety of the food for consumption. Through sample testing at various stages of food processing, it is possible to identify the source of contamination, if any.