Food has always been the closest product of human consumption and comprises of the sheer power to delight consumers. This makes quite crucial for these substances to be safe in terms of human consumption.
Producers of food across India are increasing becoming sensitive about the prospect that food they produce must be the safest in terms of human consumption.
Industrialization has transformed the utmost quality of the value chain through which raw materials pass. Prior to the widespread development of this age, it was far safer to source raw materials in a much more pure form. However, with the arrival of globalization, sourcing of raw materials happen from across the world and the safety of the value chain has become the responsibility of each member that comprise the value chain. Sensitizing these members about the paramount importance of safety, along with the partnership among stakeholders, is the primary key to overhaul the food safety environment in the country. This involves the valued partnerships between various stakeholders, such as policy makers, regulators, and the government, and the producers of food.
One of the most critical elements of food testing in the nation, that has witnessed a vast change in approach, is the change from testing for safety to testing for adulteration. While the two elements might seem similar, the first requires a much higher extent of expertise and precision than the latter.
Food used to be adultered traditionally to gain higher profits while compromising with the quality of the raw materials. However, with the advent of stringent laws in place, the aim has now shifted to ensuring the safety of the food products.
At times, as it is seen, there is a vast difference of location and time between the food’s country of consumption and origin. It is, therefore, of paramount importance for today’s food businesses to test the safety of their food. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, has been a strong helping hand for food manufactures to drive the focus of quality and move beyond adulteration.
Majority of the testing laboratories, at present, carry out tests at the parts per billion trace level as per the internationally set standards. The new age implementation of the mass spectroscopy method hand-in-hand with state-of-the-art technology is needed for detection of contaminants at the parts per billion levels. There is an encouraging number of laboratories within the nation operating on mass spectroscopy instruments that examine contaminants through a unique mass number and characteristics. As per local needs, these methods require much higher levels of customization, although being internationally acclaimed.
Test results may be inconsistent based on the location and type of food items. Methods of food testing capture an immense scope to consistently be enhanced upon in order to gain efficiency from time to time.
Processes that are gravely impactful at present may not be as impactful a decade from now. Policy and process are two sides of the coin, and are required to move parallel to each other consistently on the path of gaining high efficiency. Collaboration has been known as the key to drive the innovative thought processes regarding the same.
Thanks to the Modi government, the “Make In India” campaign has been encouraging a considerable number of food manufacturers to set up shops within the nation. The upcoming years shall witness an increased number of global brands establishing production units within India.
Talent is one of the major challenges the sector faces at present. Students who aspire to enter the industry must be encouraged by giving them the right kind of environment to escalate their careers. As the infrastructure improves, the opportunities for talent shall become more lucrative and a much higher level of expertise will surely be infused into the industry.
As far as it goes, traceability is a vital part of food safety testing. As complex the supply chains are from fork to farm, they challenge the industry to adopt a nimble approach towards traceability, which is critical for the business entities. A proactive step to this is the constructive approach towards enhancing the safety standards. While cost effectiveness is low to adopt the concept initially, it surely helps in the long run to ensure the safety of the end consumer, at the same time creating a well-rounded brand value for the food manufacturer.
The lead in ensuring the adoption of such safe practices across the array of food businesses of all sizes must be taken by the government and the industry bodies. These practices shall help lower the instances of product recalls and go on to maintain a non-shivering consumer loyalty.
The FSSAI has adapted commendable steps to ensure that self-mandate is complimented by nothing but favorable policy and infrastructure. However, for the steps to reap, the stakeholders must collaborate on different lengths with the uniform concern towards food safety.