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Food Safety And Security In India Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1939 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Food safety is a growing concern globally. With the innovations in the processing technologies, packaging techniques, agricultural practices, and change in food habits, industry and enforcement authorities are facing new challenges every day. Currently there are more than twenty Indian laws relating to food, which are administered by a number of different Ministries and Departments. Food processors have to comply with these rules. Among the more important food laws are:

• Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) of 1954 and the PFA Rules of 1955. Covers specifications related to food colour, preservatives, pesticide residues, packaging and labelling, and regulation of sales.

• The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, and the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 1977. Designed to establish fair trade practices with respect to packaged commodities.

• The Fruit Products Order, 1955. Specifications and quality control requirements regarding the production and marketing of processed fruits and vegetables, sweetened aerated water, vinegar, and synthetic syrups.

• Meat Food Products Order, 1992. Administers the permissible quantity of heavy metals, preservatives, and insecticide residues for meat products.

• Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992. Regulates the production, distribution, and supply of milk products; establishes sanitary requirements for dairies, machinery, and premises; and sets quality control standards for milk and milk products.

• The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. In August 2006, Government of India has passed a new legislation Food Safety and Standards Act.

9.2 Food safety standards

Temperature control should be maintained in Raw and cooked meat, poultry and meat products, Dairy products and foods containing dairy products, Seafood, Processed fruits and vegetables, Cooked rice and pasta, Processed foods containing eggs, beans, nuts and other protein-rich foods, foods that contain any of the above foods eg sandwiches and custard and cream filled baked goods. Generally the Standards require that potentially hazardous food is kept under temperature control which means below 5°C and above 60°C. Businesses need to limit the amount of time that potentially hazardous foods are kept in the ‘danger zone’ ‑ temperatures between 5°C and 60°C.

Food storage

During storage you must make sure that the safety and suitability of the food is kept. This means that Food must be protected from contamination; Food must be stored under correct environmental conditions e.g. lighting and humidity; Potentially hazardous food must be stored under correct temperature. (below 5°C and above 60°C or frozen).

Food processing

Only safe and suitable food is processed; Food must be protected from contamination; There are no organisms present that can cause illness when the food is ready to eat. Some processing steps have clear requirements for example:





Food display

Food must be protected from contamination, for example barriers, covering ready to eat foods such as cakes and muffins that are on counters and supervision. That potentially hazardous food is either kept under temperature control or time is used as the control to keep the food safe. If less than 2 hours the food must either be refrigerated or used immediately; For longer than 2 hours, but less than 4 hours, must be used immediately ; For a total of 4 hours or longer, must be thrown out. If using the 2 hour/4 hour rule the business must be able to provide evidence of the times, eg tags with times marked.

Food packaging

The packaging material used is safe for food; the packaging material used is not likely to contaminate the food; the food is not contaminated during the packaging process.

Food transportation

Businesses must make sure that food being transported is protected from contamination; and that Potentially hazardous food must be transported at the correct temperature. (< 5°C and > 60°C or frozen)

Health and Hygiene requirements

inform the food handlers about their health and hygiene responsibilities; make sure that the food handlers do not handle food if they are unwell with an illness such as gastro, or other illnesses that can be passed on through food; provide sufficient hand washing facilities, refer to ‘Food Safety Standards Premises and Equipment’ fact sheet; make sure that food handlers on the premises do not contaminate food.

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Food Handlers Requirements:

Food handlers must do everything they can to make sure that they do not contaminate food. They must wash their hands with soap and running warm water in the hand wash basin provided and then dry them using either a paper towel or air drier. Hand washing before handling food must be done regularly and whenever there might be the risk of contaminating food. They must not behave in any way that could cause contamination of food, for example smoking in food handling areas. Food handlers must inform their supervisor if they are suffering from; diarrhoea, vomiting, a sore throat with fever, fever or jaundice, any infected skin wound or discharges from their ears, nose, or eyes as these conditions could contaminate food.

Cleaning, Sanitising and Maintenance

Food contact surfaces, ie- chopping boards and preparation benches, must be cleaned and sanitised regularly or in between tasks to make sure that contamination of food does not occur. This also applies to the eating and drinking utensils. Sanitising can be achieved by; using hot water (77°C at least), using a food grade sanitiser or diluted bleach. The premises, fittings and equipment must be kept clean and in a state of good repair. Chipped, cracked or broken utensils must not be used. Garbage must not be left to build up and must be removed regularly.

Food Security

The broader reasons for food insecurity are many: war, poverty, population growth, environmental degradation, limited agricultural technology, ineffective policies, and disease. Natural resources base like land, water, forest and the bio-diversity being the foundations for the both food security and environmental sustainability has been irreversibly damaged owing to the increasing food demand and consequently food insecurity.

9.3 Food Standards & Safety measures for Select food products:

Dairy products: As far as microbiological criteria is concerned, Indian standards for dairy products are elaborate. E,g ghee, butter, skimmed milk. The possibility of contamination from heavy metals should be checked and incorporated. Also, the products which are prepared from milk, should address to pesticide residue levels, and veterinary drug contamination e.g. yoghurt and weaning food.

Poultry products: Indian standards for shelled eggs are comparable to international standards. The Indian standards for chicken meat and poultry meat should address the requirements for heavy metal contamination.

Meat Products: Indian standards are available for boneless meat of Bovine which takes care of microbiological contamination is silent of heavy metals. There are no specifications available for sheep meat and goat meat in India, whereas other countries have identified the heavy metal contamination.

Sea foods: Mercury contamination in sea foods is a major concern internationally which has not been addressed in Indian standards .Microbiological characteristics should also be addressed.

Agricultural Products: The possibility of aflatoxin content in agricultural products has been addressed in the Indian standards but is silent on heavy metals (lead, cadmium and arsenic). Majority of the codex standards compared talk about lead contamination. The standards are comparable as far as honey is concerned.

Milling products: Codex standards on whole-wheat flour consider the possible contamination from heavy meats and microbes where as Indian standards give requirements for physical hazards like rodent hair etc.

Edible Oils: Specifications on all types of oils as under codex consider the heavy metal contamination where as Indian standards are not addressing the same. For parameters such as peroxide value, which relates to the rancid condition of oils, Indian standards do not give quantitative specifications. Indian standards should be reviewed to such effects in the interest of public health.

Fruits and vegetables:

Fresh fruits: Majority of the countries has identified the allowances level for physical impurities, defects and physical contaminations. Some of the countries have given the requirement for metals with Indian additionally following the heavy metals and pesticides specification of codex.

Dry fruits: Majority of the countries has identified the specifications for physical impurities and physical contaminants and physical defects. Codex has additionally identified the specifications for heavy metals.

Processed fruits and vegetables: Heavy metals limits are clearly identified in Malaysian standards but PFA standards for the above mentioned products are limited to compositional requirements and physical characteristics. USA has clearly described the physical defects in case of jams, squash and jellies etc. Pickle is an item of mass consumption all over India and has various category of ingredients in it. The PFA standards refer to microbiological contamination. The heavy metal contamination is addressed only in qualitative terms where it should have addressed to the heavy metal contamination such as lead, arsenic and cadmium etc in quantitative terms.

Food safety checklist includes different aspects under the following heads:

Personal hygiene

Food Preparation

Hot holding

Cold holding

Refrigerator, Freezer & cooler

Food Storage & Dry Storage

Cleaning & sanitizing

Utensils & equipment

Garbage storage and disposal

Pest control


The installation of ISO: 14000, ISO 22000 Quality Management Systems and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) based food safety system is extremely desirable in view of the changing scenario in the international trade. Ministry of Food Processing Industries is operating a Plan Scheme to motivate the food processing industries for adoption / implementation of food safety and quality assurance mechanisms such as Total Quality Management (TQM)including ISO, ISO 14000, ISO 22000, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) and prepare them to face the global competition in international trade in post WTO era. (Ministry of op Annual Report – 2008-09)

Unprocessed foods are susceptible to spoilage by biochemical processes, microbial attack and infestation. The right post harvest practices such as good processing techniques, and proper packaging, transportation and storage (of even processed foods) can play a significant role in reducing spoilage and extending shelf life.


Food Security-Agricultural Bio Diversity (Yamini Gurani)

Food safety standards ( www.foodstandards.gov.au)

Comprehensive study of food regulations and standards, food testing, CODEX resource system – Report by TUV South Asia Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai


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