What is Food Quality Testing and its Importance?
Food quality testing is an essential process, which is performed as the last step in a food production chain. This process ensures that the food product is safe to be consumed.
This is undertaken in a testing lab that determines whether the food contains any physical, biological, or chemical contaminants or impurities, such as salmonella, e-coli bacteria, pests, pesticides, pieces of metals, wood or plastic, cleaning agents, etc.
Food testing is necessary because the process verifies if the food product is ready for consumption and stands up to health regulations in the quality guidelines developed by various food quality testing experts worldwide.
Testing laboratories certify that a particular food is free from any physical, biological, or chemical contaminants or impurities. Food quality testing laboratories carry out the scientific inspection of various food products and their contents before they are manufactured for distribution.
As part of their food testing services, the labs produce all the information about the food product’s contents, composition, and physicochemical properties. Some objectives of food quality testing are mentioned below:
- To verify the manufacturer’s statement that the product and its contents are safe to consume.
- For quality control verification before, after, and during production, or a thorough check before the product is sent for distribution.
- To ensure that the product adheres to the guidelines for food inspection standards and certification by the FSSAI, a testing and grading organization under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- To examine and share their findings regarding the nutritional value and contents of food items.
- To investigate and publish their findings if there are allegations that a particular product or label is a health risk or potentially life-harming if consumed in a large quantity.
Processes for Food Quality Testing
Several methods are used to conduct food quality testing and collect meticulous details about its nutritional values and purity. Some of the standard practices are mentioned below:
- Nutritional Investigation: This experiment is performed to isolate the composites and study the nutritional importance of the food item.
- Sensory Experiment: It is a simple process where the food is examined by seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting.
- Analytical Chemistry Examination: In this method, the minor components of food items are systematically isolated and studied individually for their contaminants, pH, preservatives, colors, additives, etc.
- Microbiological Testing: This experiment is utilized to spot impurities in food products that might contaminate them. Microbiological testing is performed on the ingredients, the raw materials, and also the finished product.
Food Quality Testing Laboratories in India
There are numerous food quality testing labs in India. All food testing Labs in the country are sanctioned by the FSSAI and graded by NABL under the guideline ISO/IEC 17025 for biological and chemical examination of all agricultural products, food items, and beverages.
These testing labs have only one aim: to provide the best, most thorough service in the food quality testing industry for both export and domestic markets.
The food quality testing industry in India is backed by the Government of India, along with the participation of numerous testing experts, scientists, researchers, and experiment technicians. These workers have access to an advanced, state of the art testing lab with modern infrastructure and the latest equipment.
Food quality testing is a necessary process where food items’ purity is determined by several testing procedures based on testing physical attributes, sensory properties, chemical makeup, consumption value, packaging, and labeling, to verify if there are any toxic microbiological impurities.
The different procedures used for food product testing include Sensory Experiment, Nutritional Investigation, Microbiological Testing, and Analytical Chemistry Examination. The FSSAI approves these food testing labs for examining food products according to the guidelines as mentioned in the Food Safety and Standards Act. Along with this,
all the labs have to be accredited by the NABL. The lab must also be recognized by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Export Inspection Council ( EIC), and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
Every person has the right to fresh, clean, hygienic, and safe food. Thus consumers have to be careful about food safety and security. No matter how healthy the food item, unless it is guaranteed to be safe from impurities, it is not safe for consumption.
Packaged products should be checked for a mark of approval by one of these testing agencies. When vegetables and fruits are eaten raw, one must eliminate microscopic impurities by thorough cleaning and proper storage conditions.