Through an order dated 24 October 2016, the FSSAI has asked all Food Safety Officers to carry out inspection of transportation and storage facilities of edible oil as per compliance requirements. The FSSAI has also created a Performa which Inspectors can use to obtain information regarding transportation of edible oil.
FSSAI has passed this order because it has received numerous representations on the poor maintenance of bulk tankers used for transportation and storage of edible oils. There are also many complaints about inadequate cleaning and unhealthy conditions of the tankers. Transportation of food is covered under the definition of Food Business mentioned under section 3(n) of the FSS Act 2006.
Transporters of food need to comply with the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation 2011. The provisions of Schedule-4 with regard to General Requirements on Hygiene and Sanitary Practices have to be followed by all Food Business Operators who apply for a license. Those FBOs that transport edible oil also need to apply for license and so they have to ensure that all equipment and containers that come in contact with food and used for food handling storage, preparation, processing, packaging and serving shall be made of corrosion free materials which do not impart any toxicity to the food material and should be easy to clean and disinfect.
According to the Performa, Inspectors will obtain information on
- Kind of oil transportation
- Material of construction used for oil tankers, receptacles. (It is recommended that the material used for receptacles be made from stainless steel, mild steel or any other non-corrosive material)
- If the tankers are made of other materials then what is the material used.
- What is the condition of the material? Is it rust-free, corrosion resistant, does it have any chipping, cracks etc.
- What is required to improve the food hygiene and cleanliness of the oil tankers?
Codex Alimentarius Commission recommendations for oil tankers
Contact of oils with oxygen from the atmosphere can cause chemical changes which has a negative impact on the quality of the oil. Therefore bulk tanker transporters need to ensure that the covers are secured firmly to prevent contact with air. All openings such as inlets, outlets, draining out points, etc., should be made such that they can be locked or effectively sealed. If the receptacles are made of copper and copper alloy then oxidation increases therefore these materials are not suitable for tanker containers.
Tankers used for edible oil transportation should always be clean and thoroughly dried as water can cause hydrolysis especially when the temperature is high. The presence of certain microorganisms can also promote hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is the breakdown of fats and fatty acids caused by the presence of water or microorganisms.
Undesirable contamination is caused if the tanker is used for transportation of other material and residues remain because of improper cleaning. Therefore FBOs need to establish a proper cleaning routine so all residues from previous edible oil transportation are cleaned out. If steam or water is used for cleaning, the tankers must be drained out and completely dried before oil is transported in them again. If cleaning agents are used then no residue must remain in the receptacles.