FSSAI proposes microbiological requirements for testing and analysis of Meat & Meat Products. The Food Regulator has proposed the new standard testing parameters in the latest published document which was uploaded on the official website on August 31, 2015. The existing microbiological requirements as given in Appendix B under the FSS (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulations 2011 do not contain guidelines for standards for testing parameters in Meat & Meat Products.
The proposed new standards have been presented in the tabular format where information regarding the microbiological testing parameters have been categorized into
- A) Hygiene Indicator Organisms
- B) Safety Indicator Organisms
The table for Hygiene Indicator Organisms contains the information on standard parameters for Total plate count, Yeast and mold count, Escherrichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus (Coagulase +ve). The table also draws the guidelines on the sampling plan and maximum permissible number of relevant bacteria and the level at or above which the lot has to be rejected.
The table for Safety Indicator Organisms shows the standard parameters for the testing an analysis of the microbial contaminants like Salmonella, Listeria Monocytogenes, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum, Campylobacter Spp. The guidelines for the sampling plan and maximum permissible number of relevant bacteria and the level at or above which the lot has to be rejected have also been discussed in the tabular format.
The proposed new guidelines have been presented as Table: 5 Microbial Requirements for Meat and Meat Products. The new guidelines will be implemented once the food authority issues a final notification in the Official Gazette after considering the suggestions and comments of all stakeholders. The new regulations will come into force either from 1st January or 1st July of the year subject to a minimum 180 days from the date of the final notification.
There are 9 categories of meat and meat products that have been discussed: Fresh meat, Chilled meat, Frozen meat, Raw minced or comminuted meat or product, Cured or pickled meat, Fermented meat products, Dried or dehydrated meat product, Cooked or semi cooked meat, Canned or retort pouch meat. Methods of analysis are to be followed as per the BIS standards which have also been discussed in the official doc. What is also important is that the FSSAI has separately also defined the categories of meats and meat products so that the FBOs can find it convenient to understand each category and comply accordingly.
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Amendments to the Standards for testing of Milk & Milk Products
Similar to the tables that have been drawn up for new standards for Meat and Meat products, FSSAI has also proposed the amendments to the existing standard guidelines for Milk & Milk Products in tabular form. The tables are self-explanatory and FBOs will find them easy to read and understand as all the information is available at a glance.
The microbial testing of Milk & Milk products have been given in Table 2 of Appendix B under the FSS (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. FSSAI has proposed the amendments to the existing standard guidelines for Milk & Milk Products. When these regulations come into force either on 1st January or 1st July which ever date fulfils the criteria of 180 days gap after final notification, these regulations will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2015.
Table-2A provides the requirements for ‘Hygiene Indicator Organisms’ for microbiological contaminants like Aerobic Plate Count, Coliform Count Staph, Aureus (Coagulase positive), Yeast and mold count and Faecal streptococci..
Table-2B requires the ‘Safety Indicator Organisms’ for contaminants like E. coli
Salmonella / Shigella, L. monocytogenes, B. cereus, Sulphite Reducing Clostridia (SRC) and Enterobacter sakazakii. The tables contain the guidelines for the sampling plan and maximum permissible number of relevant bacteria and the level at or above which the lot has to be rejected have all been indicated in the table.
There are 14 products on the table for which microbiological parameters have been given and these are: Pasteurized Milk/Flavored Milk, Pasteurized Cream, Sterilized/UHT/Flavored Milk / Evaporated Milk, Sterilized/ UHT Cream, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Pasteurized Butter, Milk powder (SMP, PSMP, Dairy Whitener ; Cream powder ; Ice Cream Mix powder ; Lactose ; Whey based powder ; Butter Milk powder ; Casein powder), Infant Milk Food, Infant Formulae, Infant Milk Substitute, Food , Follow Up Formula, Cereal Based Complimentary, Ice Cream, Frozen Dessert, Milk Lolly, Ice Candy etc., Processed Cheese/ Cheese Spread (Ready To Eat Products). All Other Cheeses Categories Including Fresh Cheeses / Cheddar /Cottage /Soft /Semi Soft etc. (Not Ready To Eat Products) Fermented milk products Yoghurt, Dahi, Chakka, Shrikhand etc., Paneer/ Chhana/ chhana based sweets, Khoa/ khoa based sweets.
The Microbiological Requirements for Milk and Milk Products contains a third table;
Table 2C, which contains a Sampling plan for compliance of microbiological parameters at manufacturing units and at retail points as given in table 2A and 2B. Accordingly manufacturing units and retail points have been assigned standards under three categories of microbiological quality based on hygiene and safety indicator organisms. These categories are satisfactory, unsatisfactory and potentially dangerous.
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Microbiological testing of food
Microscopic organisms in food could be single cell, multiple cell or without cell. Microorganisms play an important role in our surroundings as all humans, plants and animals contain these organisms. Since microorganisms can survive extreme temperatures they can contaminate foods products and can become harmful if they multiply in large numbers and enter the human body through foods. They are responsible for foodborne diseases like typhoid, amoebiasis, botulism, cholera, dysentery etc. Testing of foods so that microbiological organisms are well within the permissible levels is required as per regulations.