Hotline: 1800 102 2007
X
Search Business Opportunities
Startup 2015-07-08

How food brands can work together to improve food safety?

From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that testing for contaminating metals is a very important aspect of maintaining food safety.

By
How food brands can work together to improve food safety?

The overall F&B scenario in India has evolved dramatically over the past decade. While in the past, there were only a handful of brands to choose from; now the consumers have difficulty in choosing from the multitude of brands on offer!

The F&B industry has also attracted good investments in recent years. So, with the booming of the sector, comes the issue of food safety. In order to ensure that the F&B market keeps flourishing, it is important to focus on the quality of food offered to the consumers.

It is of the utmost importance that the food we eat and the beverages we drink are absolutely safe for human consumption. Therefore, carrying out food safety checks is a mandatory requirement for ensuring food safety.

Today, food products need be tested for a large number of contaminants. Of these, contaminating metals are very important, as these have a deleterious effect on health if the levels are above the specified values. Many metals act as co-factors for enzymes involved in various metabolic pathways. It follows that large quantities of contaminating metals can have an adverse effect on these metabolic pathways, leading to health problems, especially upon continuous, long-term exposure.

The various types of metals, in particular, the heavy metals are widely distributed in our environment, and can enter our food chain though various ways. For example, heavy metals in the streams, rivers and lakes can accumulate in fish, which in turn are consumed by humans, leading to heavy metals entering the human food chain. This is only one example out of a myriad. However, regardless of the mode of entry into the food cycle, they disturb the normal functioning of the body metabolism and can accumulate in the body causing severe toxicity.

A few other metals, namely, sodium, potassium and calcium do not fall within the category of heavy metals, but are nevertheless important for the normal functioning of the body. Calcium is required for muscle contraction and transportation of molecules; while sodium and potassium are required for maintaining electrolyte balance within cells with reference to its extracellular environment. Deficiency of these metal ions can lead to various health problems. For example, calcium deficiency can cause osteomalacia or weak bones, while excess can cause toxicity. Deficiency of sodium and potassium can cause hyponatremia and hypokalemia respectively, while their excesses can lead to toxicity.

Safety limits for heavy metals recommended by FSSAI

To protect the consumers, regulatory bodies across the world have established regulations with stringent limits on the permitted levels of heavy metals in different items of food. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex regulatory body on food in India, has recommended safety limits for metal contaminants in food and beverages, which should not be exceeded. These are tabulated below.

Table 1: FSSAI recommended limits for metal contaminants in foods and beverages

 

Metal Contaminant

Article of Food

Parts per Million (ppm) by Weight

Lead

Beverages:

 

Concentrated soft drinks

0.5

Tomato juice & other fruit and vegetable juices

1.0

Lime juice & lemon juice

2.0

Tea

10.0 on the dry matter

Foods:

 

Edible oils, fats and refined white sugar

0.5

Ice cream & ice lollies

1.0

Canned fish & meat, meat extracts, hydrolyzed protein, dried and dehydrated vegetables

5.0

All types of sugar: raw sugar, sugar syrup, invert sugar, edible molasses, caramel liquid, solid glucose

5.0

Iron fortified common salt

2.0

Meat and meat products

2.5

Solid pectin

50.0

Hard boiled sugar confectionery

2.0

Foods not specified

2.5

Copper

Beverages:

 

Soft drinks excluding concentrates and carbonated water

7.0

Carbonated water

1.5

Concentrates of soft drinks

20.0

Coffee beans

30.0

Tea

150.0

Juice of orange, grape, apple, tomato, pineapple and lemon

5.0

Foods:

 

Iron fortified common salt

2.0

Pulp and pulp products of any fruit

5.0

Infant milk substitute and Infant foods

15.0 (but not less than 2.8)

Caramel

20.0

Tomato puree, paste, powder, juice and cocktails

100.0 on the dried tomato solid

Tomato ketchup

50.0 on the dried total solids

Edible gelatin

30.0

Pectin solid

300.0

Hard boiled sugar confectionery

5.0

Foods not specified

30.0

Arsenic

Beverages (including milk):

 

Milk

0.1

Soft drink intended for consumption after dilution except carbonated water

0.5

Carbonated water

0.25

Juice of orange, grape, apple, tomato, pineapple and lemon

0.2

Foods:

 

Infant milk substitute and infant foods

0.05

Pulp and pulp products of any fruit

0.2

Preservatives, anti-oxidants, emulsifying and stabilising agents and synthetic food colours

3.0 on dry matter

Ice cream & ice lollies

0.5

Dehydrated onions, edible gelatin, liquid pectin

2.0

Dried herbs, finings and clearing agents, solid pectin all grades, spices

5.0

Hard boiled sugar confectionery

1.0

Iron fortified common salt

1.0

Foods not specified

1.1

Tin

Beverages:

 

Juice of orange, apple, tomato, pineapple and lemon

250.0

Foods:

 

Processed and canned products

250.0

Jam, jellies and marmalade

250.0

Hard boiled sugar confectionery

5.0

Pulp and pulp products of any fruit

250.0

Infant milk substitute and infant foods

5.0

Meat and meat products

250.0

Foods not specified

250.0

Zinc

Beverages:

 

Ready-to-drink beverages

5.0

Juice of orange, grape, tomato, pineapple and lemon

5.0

Foods:

 

Pulp and pulp products of any fruit

5.0

Infant milk substitute and infant foods

50.0 (but not less than 25.0)

Edible gelatin

100.0

Fruit and vegetable products

50.0

Hard boiled sugar confectionery

5.0

Foods not specified

50.0

Cadmium

Foods:

 

Infant milk substitute and infant foods

0.1

Turmeric whole and powder

0.1

Other foods

1.5

Mercury

Foods:

 

Fish

0.5

Other foods

1.0

Chromium

Refined sugar

20 ppb

Nickel

All hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, interesterified vegetable oils and fats

1.5

 

How are metals tested in food and beverages?

The presence of heavy metal contaminants in F&B makes it important for the food industry to ensure that their products are free from these toxic elements by regularly testing their ingredients and products for compliance with the regulatory requirements.

Testing for metals in foodstuff essentially involves the following four steps:

·         Sampling: The objective of this step is to obtain a small and representative portion from the large sample in such a way that any subsequent test on the sample will give reproducible results.

·         Destruction of organic matter: The commonly used methods of destruction of organic matter can be broadly grouped into wet oxidation, dry ashing and microwave digestion.

·         Separation and concentration of the metal: Once the organic component is destroyed, the element of interest is concentrated by applying physico-chemical methods.

·         Measurement and determination of the metal: The concentrated element is then subjected to analytical methods to determine its actual level in the original sample of food.

Which method does the FSSAI recommend?

The FSSAI has recommended a number of methods for testing contaminating metals in foodstuff, which have been approved and validated internationally by leading agencies like the USFDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of the EU. It is important to note that approval by international agencies in various countries means that the methods have been standardised and harmonised as per global standards. Therefore, when the Indian food products are exported to these countries and retested before distribution, they will pass the quality and safety checks easily. Some of the approved methods for testing heavy metals are briefly tabulated below.

 

Table 2: FSSAI approved methods for testing heavy metals

 

Metal

Method(s)

Lead, Cadmium, Copper, Iron, Zinc

Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS)

Mercury

Flameless AAS; Mercury analyzer; Colorimetric dithizone method

Arsenic

Colorimetric molybdenum blue method; Colorimetric silver diethyl dithiocarbamate method

Cadmium

Colorimetric dithizone method

Copper

Colorimetric carbamate method (IUPAC method)

Iron

Colorimetric method using α- α-dipyridyl

Lead

Colorimetric method using dithizone and chloroform

Tin

Spectrophotometric catechol violet method (IUPAC method); Volumetric method

Zinc

Colorimetric dithizone method

 

Most advanced method for testing metals

 

The most advanced method for testing metals, which is considered the “Gold Standard” is a combination of Microwave Digestion for sample preparation, followed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP MS) for sample analysis. The closed sample digestion technique of microwave digestion system allows for preparing the samples in a closed system at high temperature and pressure without losing any of the volatile analyte like mercury and arsenic, which are otherwise easily lost when the sample is digested using open digestion with acids or ashing followed by acid treatment. ICP MS gives the advantage of analysing all the metals at the same time with minimum manual intervention, which is required when analysing samples on an AAS with hydride generation and graphite furnace assembly. It also offers unparalleled low detection limits, in the parts per trillion levels range, allowing for the use of smaller sample quantities which can be properly digested giving better recovery and reproducibility of results.

Conclusion

From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that testing for contaminating metals is a very important aspect of maintaining food safety. These metals, particularly, the heavy metals should not exceed the permissible limits in food and beverages, as recommended by the FSSAI. Nowadays, there are a number of approved and validated methods that are at the disposal of the food analyst for testing metal contaminants in foodstuff. Importantly, more advanced and automated analytical methods like AAS, ICP MS, coupled with microwave digestion for sample preparation have immensely streamlined and simplified the whole process of food testing. This has resulted in generation of more robust data that are reproducible and at par with international standards, which has led to a new era in food testing services in India.

 

 By Invite: Saurabh Arora, Founder, Food Safety Helpline.com

Comment
Related opportunities
  • About Us: A part of BIBA Apparels Pvt. Ltd., ‘Rangriti’ brand..
    Locations looking for expansion Delhi
    Establishment year 2014
    Franchising Launch Date 2017
    Investment size Rs. 30lac - 50lac
    Space required 500
    Franchise Outlets -NA-
    Franchise Type Unit
    Headquater New delhi Delhi
  • Competitive Exam Coaching Institute
    About Us: Searching for a premium franchise opportunity in booming education..
    Locations looking for expansion Karnataka
    Establishment year 2009
    Franchising Launch Date 2009
    Investment size Rs. 2lac - 5lac
    Space required -NA-
    Franchise Outlets -NA-
    Franchise Type Unit
    Headquater Bangalore Karnataka
  • Bakery & Confectionary
    About Us: Sugardough is the brainchild of Mr. Pravin Rao, who..
    Locations looking for expansion Maharashtra
    Establishment year 2007
    Franchising Launch Date 2015
    Investment size Rs. 20lac - 30lac
    Space required 500
    Franchise Outlets -NA-
    Franchise Type Unit, Multiunit
    Headquater Pune Maharashtra
  • Juices / Smoothies / Dairy parlors
    About Us: A Surat based waffle café named Waffle Republic. Serves..
    Locations looking for expansion Gujarat
    Establishment year 2017
    Franchising Launch Date 2018
    Investment size Rs. 10lac - 20lac
    Space required 300
    Franchise Outlets -NA-
    Franchise Type Unit
    Headquater Ahmedabad Gujarat
Insta-Subscribe to
The Franchising World
Magazine
For hassle free instant subscription, just give your number and email id and our customer care agent will get in touch with you
OR Click here to Subscribe Online
Daily Updates
Submit your email address to receive the latest updates on news & host of opportunities
More Stories

Free Advice - Ask Our Experts