Thursday, 18 June 2015

Testing food samples made easy

PUNE: Common citizens, who wish to get food samples tested, can now have speedy reports that courts will accept without depending on overburdened government laboratories. 

The national food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has notified 82 private accredited laboratories in the country for carrying out analyses of food samples. Among the notified laboratories, five are from Pune. 

"The FSSAI has notified 82 laboratories accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) in India for testing food samples taken under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules and Regulations made thereunder on April 1, 2015,"said the FSSAI order issued on June 15. NABL is an autonomous body under the aegis of department of science and technology and is registered under the Societies Act. 

Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Pune said, "FSSAI notifies only those laboratories which are NABL accredited. FDA cannot send samples for testing to these notified private laboratories. Samples drawn by us are sent only to government-run laboratories. But if a manufacturer is not convinced about the test results of his/her products given by a government lab, then he or she can get the test done at FSSAI-notified labs. And if there is variation in the test reports given by the government and private notified laboratory then such a sample is sent to a referral laboratory, whose report is considered final." 

As many as 18 laboratories in Maharashtra feature in the list of laboratories notified by FSSAI. Of them, 11 laboratories, the highest number, are from Mumbai followed by five in Pune. 

Senior microbiologist Abhay Desai, director of Hadapsar-based Food Hygiene and Health Laboratory, which has been working in the field since 1998 and is one of the five notified laboratories, said, "Test reports given by a private laboratory are considered valid in the court of law if the laboratory is notified by the FSSAI." 

"Like state government and Union government-run laboratories, these notified private laboratories are empowered to issue reports accepted the world over. NABL is accredited to international accreditation bodies,"Desai said. 

Food Hygiene and Health Laboratory received the NABL accreditation in 2006 which the laboratory has been maintaining since then. 

Not all state government and Union government run food laboratories are accredited. "Barring a few government run laboratories that have complied with the stringent accreditation processes and bagged the NABL accreditation, most government laboratories are yet to get the NABL accreditation,"said a senior health official. 

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 which came into force in 2011 precisely states that private laboratories which has received NABL accreditation should automatically be considered as notified by FSSAI. 

"It is not easy to get the accreditation and more difficult to maintain it. A laboratory's accreditation is assessed and reviewed every year. It gets renewed depending upon the performance. Hence, maintaining the accreditation is tougher,"Desai said 

Senior chemical analyst V S Keskar, managing director, Sinhagad road-based Maarc Labs Private Limited one of the FSSAI notified labs in Pune, said, "Our lab has received NABL accreditation over 10 years ago. It has now been notified by FSSAI. That means the test reports given by our lab is at par with state government and Union government run laboratories. There are a lot of small food laboratories that need to be brought under regulations. People should seek assistance of only private laboratories notified by FSSAI in testing food articles." 

According to the FSSAI order, the recognition of these laboratories shall be valid from the date of notification in the official gazette till further orders by the FSSAI or the currency of NABL accreditation of the laboratory whichever is earlier. 

The currency of NABL accreditation in respect of some laboratories has already expired. Hence, the authorization of such laboratories shall remain in abeyance till their accreditation is renewed by NABL further, the order states. 

The other Pune labs notified by FSSAI are Microtech Laboratory, Wakdewadi, National Agriculture and Food Analysis and Research Institute, Tilak Road and TUV India Private Limited, Sus, Mulshi taluka. 

Key facts 

* The FSSAI has notified 82 laboratories accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) in India for testing food samples 

* As many as 18 laboratories in Maharashtra feature in the list of laboratories notified by FSSAI. Of them, the highest 11 laboratories are from Mumbai followed by five in Pune 

* The test reports from these notified laboratories will be considered valid in the court of law. 


Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Testing-food-samples-made-easy/articleshow/47728037.cms

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