Food safety has become an important public health issue and food testing laboratories play an important role in keeping you safe from health hazards. In recent years both intentional and unintentional adulteration has become high-tech and state-of-the-art testing laboratories can help to detect these adulterants.
Food safety programmes have become important because there have been substantial changes in the way the food is produced and processed.
This means that without food testing, food producers, as well as manufacturers of food products, cannot ensure that pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, naturally occurring toxins, etc. in foods are within levels prescribed in the FSSAI regulations. Food testing also ensures that ingredients and additives used in novel foods are standardized and within recommended levels. Therefore food testing laboratories keep you safe and healthy by testing foods for harmful substances right across the food chain from farm to fork.
Till very recently in India, the emphasis has been on food adequacy rather than food safety. Consistent food standards are a very recent development in India and the awareness of food safety has not yet penetrated the masses. Therefore food laboratories play a crucial role in identifying and helping to prevent microbial contaminants that cause foodborne diseases. Food testing laboratories also help to make an assessment of the hygiene and sanitation conditions in food preparation and processing premises to ensure hygienic standards are being maintained.
India is a developing country but incomes have been rising steadily. The rise in incomes has impacted food habits and now there is a demand for processed foods. Besides economic changes, there have been social changes and there is a growing section of consumers that have begun to demand food that is safe, nutritious and healthy.
Another way that food testing laboratories play a key role in ensuring food safety and protecting consumer health is through water testing. Food testing laboratories test water for food business operators to ensure that the water they use to prepare and process food is free from contaminants. Timely water testing is a regulatory requirement so water is safe for drinking. Food testing laboratories help identify the source of any contaminants found so remedial action can be taken to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Packaged drinking water has become very popular and food testing laboratories help to keep that water safe by testing the source of the packaged drinking water.
Most food manufacturers apply Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure food safety. So when the testing laboratories give them the food analysis report they are happy to realize that their quality control measures are in order. If at all there is any food safety issue then the testing lab analysis report allows manufacturers to pinpoint the exact source of the contaminant/impurity and take remedial measures.