The instruments and testing facilities at NFL Ghaziabad have been upgraded so the lab is now among the best in the country and comparable to those abroad. Arbro has played a key role in the upgradation of the facility as part of the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) that FSSAI has launched in order to foster an environment of food safety in the country.
As a result of the upgradation, NFL Ghaziabad now has state-of-the-art instrumentation needed for various testing and analysis requirements like HPTLC for food additives, nutraceuticals, LC-MS/MS, IC, HPLC-FLD, GC-HS-FD and GC-ECD for testing and analysis of residual solvents, VOCs and fatty acids,GC-MS/MS techniques will be used for detecting pesticides residues, veterinary drug residues, plant growth regulators and NOTS, IC-MS methods will be used for heavy metals and micronutrients testing and analysis.
Pesticide residue testing and analysis has gained importance because of the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides on agricultural produce leading to a risk in human health. Also, increase in international trade and exports of agricultural produce require regulatory control. Pesticide residue analysis, based on accurate mass spectrometry with GC-MS/MS is used in this field. Pesticide residue testing requires technical skills because there is a need to isolate and accurately identify even very small quantities or trace levels of residues. Gas chromatography is the most widely adopted technique in pesticide residue analysis
Mycotoxins are produced by various fungi like aspergillus, fusarium and penicillium. Aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, T-2 toxin and zearalenone. These are the most common mycotoxins that contaminate food and feed samples before harvest, during transport and during their storage. Commodities that become contaminated with mycotoxins include corn, wheat, barley, rice, oats, nuts, milk, cheese, peanuts and cottonseed. Testing and analysis require accuracy so as to ensure mycotoxin levels are within regulatory tolerance limits as prescribed by FSSAI regulations. Mycotoxin analysis of raw materials is becoming increasingly important so as to prevent the entry of these contaminants in the food chain.
Veterinary drug residues
Food manufacturers that deal in meat, poultry and fish products need to be especially careful about the levels of veterinary residues in their meat products. Use of veterinary drugs used for growth and disease control has increased and harmful veterinary drug residues can enter the food chain causing adverse health effects for human consumers. Accurate testing and analysis help meat manufacturers identify risks and control quality along the entire value chain and in this way provide safe and nutritive meat products to consumers.
Naturally Occurring Toxins
Certain types of foods contain potentially harmful natural toxins, which are classified as Naturally Occurring Toxic Substances (NOTS). These toxins may be of fungal or plant origin or may originate from marine animals such as fish. Marine toxins are produced by toxic microalgae that get accumulated in shellfish, crustacean and finfish when these marine animals consume the microalgae. NOTS of fungal origin include mushroom toxins as well as toxins from raw or unprocessed cassava and bamboo shoots. Seeds and stones in canned fruits like apricots and peaches can lead to exposure to hydrogen cyanide (HCN), marine toxins include mercury and histamine. Testing for NOTS is essential to ensure that foods are within the regulatory safe upper limit for NOTS in food products. NFL Ghaziabad will use the latest instrumentations and modern techniques to determine presence of NOTS.
Nutraceuticals and botanicals
Basic quality testing for nutraceuticals and botanicals that are used in dietary supplements includes identification, purity and microbial testing. There are also tests for impurities like pesticides and heavy metals residues as well as extraneous matter analysis. These tests are all important for quality assurance, regulatory compliance and brand protection. Quality issues may occur anywhere in the product cycle from raw material/ingredient to finished product. Testing and analysis are also required during product development so there is a need for chemical, biochemical, and microbial testing of botanicals as raw materials and also in finished products. Testing of individual vitamin, mineral, amino acid is carried out in the same way as used in the pharmaceutical industry. However, nutraceuticals also need analysis of individual components within a complex matrix of foods and substances used to manufacture the finished product.
Heavy Metals and Micronutrients
Certain heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are known to cause negative health in humans. Accumulation of heavy metals in the food chain can occur from water or the food source. Main intake sources of heavy metals are fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals. All foods must be tested and analysed for these heavy metals so they remain within regulatory maximum permissible limits. ICP-MS techniques frequently achieve the lowest detection limits to analyse trace amounts
Right amount of micronutrients in foods is important. Micronutrients fall into two categories- inorganic or elemental and vitamins. The first category includes the following: iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, copper, cobalt, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, nickel, tin, silicon and vanadium. The second category includes all the fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. FSSAI has approved the use of micronutrients for food fortification purposes within recommended limits and therefore micronutrient testing is required for fortification with micronutrients.
A food may contain minute traces of a chemical as a result of contact with a substance used in its production, processing or from food packaging material or container. Detergents used for cleaning dishes or food equipment could also be sources of trace chemicals. However, some chemical additives are intentionally used by food processors for deriving quality in texture, colour, flavour, nutritive value for better sensory acceptance. However, all additives must be included in foods according to regulatory compliance. Any new additive needs to be tested and analysed for it effect on food as well as on human health.