The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has made a quick progress towards the use of advanced technologies for food testing in the year 2019. In 2019 several new rapid food testing devices/kits for detection of food-borne pathogens and toxins have been introduced. These devices ensure “faster, better, cheaper” real-time testing of food. FSSAI states that these devices are expected to become an integral part of quality assurance/quality control programs in the food industry and also for regulatory and surveillance purposes in 2020.
In 2019, FSSAI had finalized the regulations for approval of rapid testing devices, kits and methods to strengthen the food testing ecosystem in the country. FSSAI has so far approved 30 rapid food testing kits/devices under these regulations given as per list 1 attached below.
FSSAI is also providing these kits/devices to the State Governments for use by field officers and will get quicker & validated results for tests conducted on different food products such as milk and edible oils, amongst others. Steps have been initiated to make these available on governmente Procurement marketplace (GeM) portal so that further procurements can be made by Governments, local bodies on their own. FSSAI has invested over Rs.5 crore on this so far.
Only two out of 30 rapid kits/ devices are indigenously manufactured, rest are all imported despite the fact that many research and scientific institutions are engaged in development of such kits and devices. FSSAI has initiated steps so that indigenously developed kits/devices are validated and approved under the FSSAI regulations on a fast track basis. Work has begun on 30 of these kits/devices as per list 2 attached below. These were on display at the second Eat Right Mela organized at New Delhi recently.
CEO, FSSAI, Pawan Agarwal informed that FSSAI would spend over Rs. 20 crore and procure rapid food testing kits and devices. These would be provided to field officers through the State governments. He hoped that various States would also buy such kits/devices from the (GeM) portal to make them widely available with the enforcement officials. Once, such kits and devices are widely used for regulatory purposes; food industry would also begin to use them for internal quality assurance and quality control purposes. He pointed that there is a market potential of Rs.1000 crore for such kits/devices in India alone. He hoped that wider use of rapid food testing kits and devices for food testing would be a game changer for India in 2020 and build greater public confidence in food available in the marketplace.