“We are supporting the food industry in the identification of food fraud and adulteration”

With the fifth World Food Safety Day (WFSD) being celebrated on 7 June 2023 to draw attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, NUFFOODS Spectrum spoke to Amit Chopra, Managing Director, India & South Asia Thermo Fisher Scientific about the way forward to ensuring food safety in India amidst numerous challenges.

What is the concept of food safety and why is it relevant in India?

Food safety refers to the measures taken to protect food from contamination and ensure it is safe for consumption. In India, the concept of food safety is gaining momentum as the country ranks as the second largest food producer in the world. With the rising food trade, there is an increased need for ensuring compliance with the regulatory standards of destination countries.

Food safety is not just important for regulatory compliance, but also to ensure public health and safety. Malpractices such as adulteration with substandard material, mislabelling, and the misrepresentation of information occur at every stage of the food supply chain, making it critical to implement stringent food safety measures.

Furthermore, the rise in foodborne diseases, urbanization, and changing consumer preferences has led to a significant increase in the demand for packaged food, leading to more complex food industry supply chains. This increased complexity requires food producers and handlers to ensure food safety in compliance with recognized standards, at every stage of the supply chain.

How are companies like Thermo Fisher contributing to food safety testing in India?

At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we are inspired by our Mission, to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. We are committed to working closely with our customers to develop methods and workflows that facilitate the analysis of food additives, sugars, minerals, vitamins, veterinary drugs and a wide range of contaminants, such as toxic metals, mycotoxins, pesticides and other organic contaminants.

Together with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), we have established the Food Safety Solution Centre (Customer Solution Centre) in National Food Laboratory campus, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad to implement new workflows for food safety and quality testing. Thermo Fisher has equipped the centre with advanced analytical solutions (such as LCMS/MS, GCMS/MS, ICPMS, and NGS) to enable Food Business Operators (FBOs) and manufacturers to maintain stringent quality. To help build industry knowledge and capacity, the centre will host workshops and seminars in collaboration with global regulatory bodies and industry experts to provide insights into recent regulations and explore the latest developments and innovations to address key challenges.

We are also supporting the food industry in the identification of food fraud and adulteration. Thermo Fisher’s cutting-edge NGS DNA sequencing workflow helps in the detection of multi-species DNA in food and ingredients and is best suited for plant, meat and fish species identification. Our molecular testing platform QuantStudio 5 aids in rapidly and accurately detecting food pathogens and testing genetically modified organisms.

Mass spectrometry and chromatography workflows enable food safety laboratories to conduct highly sensitive screenings of both known and unknown contaminants like pesticides, aflatoxins, and mycotoxins even at low levels.

Our unique solutions such as ion ratio mass spectrometers provide accurate and reliable results for the detection of honey adulterations.

Additionally, our advanced sample preparation tools and chromatography solutions enable the extraction of pesticides and organic compounds from food samples using minimal solvents. The separation and quantitation of these target chemicals are carried out with high precision and selectivity regardless of food type.

Through our advanced technologies, we are working closely with the leading experts in the food industry, to accurately identify and screen various types of pathogens and contaminants and ensure that our food supply chain operates within accepted international standards.

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