The Apex Food Regulator ‘FSSAI’ has to ensure that there is strict implementation and compliance of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 Rules and Regulations. In order to provide the safe, wholesome and nutritious food to the citizens, it is important for the food manufacturers to comply with standards set by FSSAI. Since food and health go hand in hand, food products testing laboratories like the NFL play a key role in ensuring that food products and additives are free from adulteration and contamination and safe to consume.
It is for this reason that through the FSSAI initiative, NFL has been upgraded by and its operations will be carried out by Arbro as a result of a unique Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) between FSSAI and Arbro. After upgradation the NFL at Ghaziabad is now a modern food laboratory that has the ability to test a variety of food products for a large number of parameters. The food product and additive testing will be carried out within strict time-lines and in compliance with global quality and regulatory standards. The NFL will undertake food testing for various food products which are as follows:
Oil and fats
Food producers need to ensure that their oils and fats are tested and analysed so the information they display for consumers about ingredients, content, quality and purity are accurate. Oils and fats are tested and analysed for parameters like oxidation, acid value, free fatty acids, oxidative stability, sensory evaluation and nutrient evaluation for fortificants, examination of organic and inorganic contaminants, residues, mycotoxins, pesticides as well as label information.
Milk and milk products
Milk testing and quality control is an essential component for the milk processing industry. Since milk contains water, to a large extent, it is prone to adulteration. Also, milk has a high nutritive value so unhygienic handling or storage in inappropriate temperatures can lead to bacterial contamination. Therefore, in order to make safe and quality milk products it is important to control the quality of raw milk, which requires testing at various stages during handling, storing, transportation and preparation of milk from producer to processor and consumer.
Cereals and pulses
Cereals and pulses need thorough testing as they are used as food as well as ingredients. Cereal grains and pulses can get contaminated from microorganisms in the environment like soil, air, water as well as from insects, rodents, birds, and humans from handling during storage, from shipping containers or even through harvesting and processing equipment. Cereals and pulses can also be contaminated from climatic conditions like rainfall, humidity, temperature, drought, sunlight and frost.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables undergo testing to ensure safety and optimal taste especially as most fruits and some vegetables are consumed raw. Fruits and vegetables need to be strictly regulated for pesticide residues. The produce must be controlled at a very early stage of the supply chain in order to provide consumers with fresh, safe, nutritive and quality products.
Poultry fish and meat
Testing and analysis in meat, poultry and fish products includes detection of meat species, veterinary drug residues, organic and inorganic contaminants, naturally occurring toxins, especially in fish, testing for microbes and pathogens. These foods require physical, chemical and microbial testing for food safety.
Consumers want to make smart food choices especially when buying packaged foods. Therefore, manufacturers are responsible for accurate display of product information. This includes ingredients, allergens, nutritive value, expiry date on packs as well as presence of any harmful chemical ingredients. Testing and analysis of raw materials as well as finished products provide food safety and increase brand value.
Ready to eat foods
There is a wide variety of ready-to-eat foods that includes foods in cafés and bakeries like sandwiches, kebabs, samosas, takeaway foods and bakery products like cakes pastries, etc. Ready-to-eat foods use both cooked and uncooked ingredients and involve handling and preparation as well storing at the right temperatures or they could develop microbial contaminants. Components in these foods as well as processing methods used require testing for hygiene and food safety.
Packaged drinking water
Packaged drinking water must be of the highest quality and so packaged water requires testing for bacterial indicators of water quality. Total and faecal coliform count, total viable plate count and culture are performed to determine and identify pathogens. Testing is also done for regulatory compliance factors like pH, alkalinity, hardness and heavy metal residues.
Ingredients and additives used in proprietary foods should either be standardized in the FSSAI Regulations or be permitted for use. This category must be clearly mentioned on the label along with its name, nature and composition.
Functional foods and Nutraceuticals
Functional foods and nutraceuticals require thorough testing and analysis for identity of ingredients, potency and purity, quality and product stability. These products are also tested for their nutritive values for health claims like weight loss, joint pain etc.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Beverages require testing for quality control for sugar content, colours, ethanol, caffeine, taurine and artificial sweeteners, etc. Chemical testing is carried out for heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins and organic compounds. Testing and analysis include testing for presence and identification of microbes that can lead to beverage spoilage.