The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft on guidelines for sampling for microbiological analysis.

The guidelines prescribe the general requirement for microbiological sampling, sampling plan, sampling tools, equipment & material, sampling procedure, labelling of sample, storage & transportation and food category wise sampling procedures.

According to the FSSAI, the microbiological analysis was vital to verify the compliance with the criteria laid down in Food Safety and Standards Regulations, food safety management system and process control, compliance of individual batches, and general information on the microbiological status of certain products placed on the market. Further, the analysis will help in monitoring and surveillance of food products along with investigation of suspected food-borne outbreaks, customer complaints.

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, says that the sampling process ensures that the food quality hasn’t been compromised. Sampling is one of the best ways to know in which state food can be preserved for consumption without contamination.

He said, “For the betterment of people, adhering to the regulatory guidelines when it comes to sampling becomes essential. Consumer safety is foremost and following those policies assures that they are safeguarded. In India, FSSAI has introduced guidelines that every food product should undergo microbiology sampling before it is consumed.”

He explains, “It examines the compliance of individual batches. Microbiological sampling is undertaken by authorised people who are experienced and trained in those processes. They select the samples from the huge lot that allows a sample to stand for a whole lot and give the right decision concerning quality, contamination and shelf life of food products. Sampling and testing are absolutely necessary as it helps to verify the compliance laid down as per the Food Safety and Standards Regulations. The procedure of microbiological sampling and testing allows the investigation of customer complaints and also to suspect food-borne outbreaks if any.”

The guidelines were approved by the Scientific Panel on Methods of Sampling & Analysis in a meeting recently. And FSSAI has sought comments from the stakeholders on the same.