The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to conduct a study for ‘Gap Analysis’ in state food testing laboratories and the objective it says was to strengthen the food testing laboratories in India. The apex food regulator intends to conduct ‘Gap Analysis’ in 74 food testing laboratories across India.

According to the FSSAI, the ‘fundamental requirement’ to conduct Gap Analysis in food testing laboratories was to strengthen and develop a robust Food Testing Laboratory Network in the country, as the laboratories form the basis of all risk assessment which is the core of development of food standards.

The Gap Analysis would cover subjects including NABL accreditation, testing facilities available, instrumentation, general infrastructure, manpower positioned (technical and others), qualification & experience of the staff, availability of food analyst, microbiologist, and vacant technical position.

Besides, the ‘Gap Analysis’ will also look into the subject of sample analysis of the last 3 years, quality parameters including nutritional analysis and others, safety parameters including heavy metals and others, certified reference materials available in labs, proficiency testing participation in the last three years, amongst others.

As reported earlier, a parliamentary panel has pulled up the FSSAI for inadequate lab infrastructure and variation in the testing results across the country.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health in its action taken report on the functioning of FSSAI has expressed dissatisfaction with the poor implementation of its recommendation that all the food testing labs across the country should follow a uniform procedure or methodology of testing to get accurate results.

The committee also expressed concerns over the accuracy of the testing methodology in food testing, while it further recommended FSSAI to guide the food laboratories in conducting their work efficiently as the committee noted that most food labs including those accredited by the NABL do not have facilities to test articles of food on all parameters