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NIFTEM-K calls for comprehensive adoption of food safety practices with testing and surveillance
Thursday, 13 June, 2024, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijayasimha, Bengaluru
National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Kundli, (NIFTEM-K), an institute of national importance, under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), calls for a comprehensive adoption of food safety practices with testing and surveillance. This according to the institute would have a profound impact to create a pool of food science professionals.

According to Dr Harinder Singh Oberoi, Director, NIFTEM-K, science, technology, entrepreneurship, and management are all embedded in NIFTEM-K's curriculum to develop food science expertise.

"In all the bachelor and master degree programmes at NIFTEM-K, management aspects are integrated with food science and technology. Some of the PhD students at the institute are working on emerging food safety problems, like  acrylamides, microplastics, DNA aptamer based Salmonella detection methods, mycotoxins and bacterial toxins, etc.," said Dr Oberoi.

"Students at NIFTEM-K garner the understanding on programmes in microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, nanotechnology, statistics, ICT, management and entrepreneurship, besides practical exposure in the pilot plants which improve their understanding about food safety, quality and entrepreneurship," he added.

Deliberating at the recently-concluded World Food Safety Day, webinar on ‘Protective Efforts and Rapid Food Emergency Control and Testing’ (PERFECT),  Dr Oberoi  noted the recent food safety concerns in the country. With this, this year’s theme for World Food Safety Day, as ‘Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected’ he emphasised the need to ensure that consumer’s food should be safe and nutritious.

While referring to the increased incidences of food-borne illness and fatalities reported by WHO, Dr Oberoi highlighted the fact that rapid methods for detection of not only food-borne pathogens, but also contaminants like pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, bacterial toxins and acrylamides is the need of the hour. 

Dr Iddya Karunasagar, international food safety consultant to FAO, WHO and ADB and Senior Director (International Relations) NITTE University, Mangaluru,  touched upon the challenges and necessary actions for managing food-borne outbreaks. It is important to  investigate and control the food-borne illnesses and outbreaks. Mock exercises are required to sensitise the agencies at all levels to make them ready with mitigation strategies for future outbreaks.

Dr Amit Sharma, Director-Food Safety, FSSAI, acknowledged the importance of food safety and underlined the need for collaboration between the government and academia, like NIFTEM, ICMR and ICAR to work together for detection and prevention of food-borne outbreaks in the country.

Naresh Kumar, application specialist, Biomerieux, highlighted the cumbersome and time-consuming procedures for microbiological testing as the biggest challenge in ensuring food safety. Developing  rapid methods to detect and prevent food-borne incidences can enhance food safety.

Dr Kathiravan Krishnamurthy, associate teaching professor, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA, stressed upon the fact that the non-thermal processes like Pulsed Light and Cold Plasma should be adopted by the food industry to not only preserve the nutrients but also improve the shelf life of the food products.

Dr Neetu Taneja, assistant professor at NIFTEM-K, outlined her team's research on biofilm formation by microorganisms like E. coli and Salmonella, emphasising its role in enhancing their long-term survival.

Dr P Murali Krishna, Professor, NIFTEM-K, touched upon the development of nanosensors for on-site food safety detection applications and also upon the role of IoT and electronics in food safety.

Dr Sarvanan Chakravarthi, Assistant Professor, NIFTEM-K, discussed the work done for food contamination mitigation by his group, especially with reference to acrylamide detection in different fried and baked foods and the methods to reduce and eliminate them.
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