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F&B SPECIALS

Importance of testing & certification for manufacturers
Wednesday, 01 May, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Food is important for human existence and existence itself depends on the food being safe for consumption. The responsibility for food safety involves all stakeholders like the country’s apex regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), food business operators (FBOs) and certification and accreditation organisations.

A food safety certification conveys to consumers that the food manufacturer meets the food standards, and is in full compliance of food regulations nationally and internationally.

In food safety, one of the major roles is played by the food testing laboratories. Testing laboratories that are NABL- (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited and FSSAI-notified laboratories recognised for specific parameters are the most sought-after by food manufacturers.

The NABL laboratory used by food manufacturers is accredited under a standard such as the ISO/IEC 17025 standard.

These NABL-accredited labs follow all essential food testing processes by using scientific analysis and approved methodologies to identify issues that could be associated with unsafe foods.

They test foods for chemical and microbiological parameters and certify that the raw materials and all components in foods are guaranteed as being safe to consume.

Food safety certification by a third party is valuable for food businesses, as it demonstrates their responsibility towards ensuring that foods are free from adulteration and safe to consume.

These testing laboratories play a leading role in identifying contaminants in raw materials or in the finished products before it is placed in the market.

Laboratories also play a key role in the development of new products, the choice of ingredients used, the food processing method, shelf life and sensory evaluation.

Of course, the major role of food testing laboratories is to ensure that the FBOs are in compliance with food regulations and that the ingredients and food additives used in the food products meet regulatory standards.

Testing of imported foods
Food product safety is not limited to just foods produced and manufactured domestically, but extends to testing of imported foods too. Imported foods must follow the food regulations of the country that the food is being imported into.

Since testing laboratories have the knowledge of the labelling requirements, they ensure that the nutritional information on the labelling of packaged food products meets packaging and labelling regulations, including font size, ink used, etc., besides the required nutrition facts.

Another area that is becoming increasingly important is the popularity of nutraceutical foods, health supplements and foods for special medical purposes.

Along with testing for purity, food testing laboratories carry out food testing of these ‘new’ foods to ensure that only FSSAI-standardised ingredients and additives have been used in them.

If any new products using new ingredients are developed, the testing laboratory certificate is required for FSSAI approval of products using new ingredients. Along with nutraceutical testing, some countries also require GMO- (genetically-modified organism) free food testing certification.

In recent years, food testing laboratories have been tasked with testing foods for allergens, especially with nuts that can cause allergic reactions in consumers.

Another area of importance in food testing is for certification for organic foods. Laboratory testing certifies that the organic foods are authentic and pure free of pesticide residues and heavy metals.

Food manufacturers also use testing labs to carry out third-party audits to certify that a food business is in compliance with food regulations as specified in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

All in all, food testing laboratories play a key role in FSMS. They can help FBOs to ensure that their processes, operations, etc., are following good manufacturing processes (GMPs) and providing safe and nutritious food to consumers.

 
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