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How is food quality tested?

We do not consume food just for survival. Food is often considered as art, a hobby and an experience. Many people worldwide believe in the power of food and its different types to be the unifying force of the entire nation. Food is a cultural, social and physiological binding force in society. When food is of so much importance not just as a source of energy but as a symbol of a nation, it seems quite important that the food must be healthy, free of toxins and chemicals.

Food Testing is one of the most important tools that comes to the resume of all of us to ensure the food that reaches us, as simple as rice, pulses, wheat, spices, condiments, flour, vegetables and packed meat, anything and everything needs to go through food testing to ensure its viability and safety for consumption. It has become especially important now in the era of Covid 19 to make sure what we consume is of utmost quality and hygiene. Food testing labs have a reputation and credibility that is in lieu of the various accreditation boards in the country or worldwide, such as FSSAI, FSSA, ISO, BIS, HACCP etc.

Why do we Test for Food Quality?

Food quality needs to be tested so that the food passes through some of the most important standards set by the authorities of the food control board so that the food we consume, in its raw state, is free from artificial components, chemicals, pathogens and toxins.

Each item that you see in a supermarket aisle, be it rice such as Basmati Rice, Flour such as Packaged Corn, All Purpose or Wheat Flour, Oil such as refined or Olive Oil, Canned spices, Condiments, Canned meat, fish, Tomato Puree, Packaged Noodles, Chips, Cookies and biscuits, everything has a food accreditation mark on it. This means that the product has gone through food testing in an accredited lab and has met all the standards required before it is deemed safe for consumption.

Food Testing Service Labs are responsible for that small box that carries nutritional information of the product, which has been made mandatory by the Food Regulation Board. Labs test the chemical composition of the product using various analysis techniques using small sample size and list out all the components and their per mg constituent.

What are the Methods Used to Test Food Quality?

Food testing service helps us in ensuring that the food product that we buy is perfectly safe for consumption or anyone if otherwise noted. This includes kids, the elderly and pregnant women, which increases the risk factor, and therefore, the need to have the best quality food that has gone through stringent examination. Following are the steps that are taken by food testing labs:

Sensory Examination

In the sensory examination, the physical appearance of the food specimen is tested. The way it appears, smells, feels, looks are all taken down and must meet the guidelines of how the product must be according to the norms. The product should basically look fresh and hygienic in the preliminary stage. For example, a packet of chips can be examined on its appearance, on how it smells, how it feels and if it looks hygienic for consumption at the onset.

Nutritional Analysis

The product label has a box with the component and their composition along with the nutritional value. This is basically provided by the manufacturer. This claim is further tested and verified by the food testing service to ensure that the label is correct and the product does meet the nutritional value expectation declared by the manufacturer.

Analytical Chemical Testing

In the Chemical Testing phase, the components of the food product are broken down into essential elements and are then analyzed using various methods and treatments for the presence of chemicals, both fit and unfit for consumption by the user. The test basically determines the presence of additives, colors, preservatives and if they are within the permissible amounts. It also detects contaminants and the overall pH of the product.

Microbiology Testing

As the name suggests, microbiology tests look for pathogens and microbes that may further degrade the product. This is required to ascertain the shelf life of the product and needs to be done at the first stage with the raw materials as well as with the packaged and prepared material.

These are some of the methods used in food testing service labs so that the products that we buy are up to the standards.