FSSAI has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Eighth Amendment Regulations, 2020, related to microbiological requirements for spices and herbs.
Food Business Operators shall comply with all the provisions of these regulations by July 1, 2021, says the notification.
According to the notification, two separate tables are provided for pre-market and post- market scenarios for microbiological requirements.
The notification says that the microbiological standards with respect to the product categories specified in Table-3A (Process Hygiene Criteria) related to aerobic colony count, yeast and mould count, Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus aureus, indicate the acceptable functioning of the production process. These are not to be used as requirements for releasing the products in the market. These are indicative values above which corrective actions are required in order to maintain the hygiene of the process in compliance with food law. These shall be applicable at the end of the manufacturing process.
The Microbiological Standards in Table-3B (Food Safety Criteria) related to salmonella, sulphite reducing clostridia and bacillus cereus, define the acceptability of a batch/lot and shall be met in respect of the products at the end of manufacturing process and the products in the market during their shelf- life.
The notification also provides sampling plans and guidelines. The regulations provide that the sampling should be ensured by a trained person with ‘specialised knowledge’ in microbiology in accordance with the ISO 707 (latest version).
The regulations also specified the reference testing methods for parameters including aerobic plate count, yeast and mould count, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Sulfite-reducing bacteria, and bacillus cereus.