FSSAI proposed revised standards of microbiological standards for fish and fish products under “Appendix B” of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. The changes to TABLE 1, and entries relating thereto will be substituted. After calling for views, suggestions and comments from WTO-SPS Committee Members, proposed standards will be considered for the amendments and the final notification in this regard will be issued.
The proposed standards have been discussed through tables in the official document. Table 1A is talking about microbiological requirement, noted for fish and fishery products under hygiene indicator organisms. Table 1B talks about safety indicator organisms. (To know more about this, check the link (fssai.gov.in) given at the end of the article)
FSSAI has also given the definitions for Fish & Fishery Products:
- Raw/Chilled/Frozen Finfish
- Raw/Chilled/Frozen Crustaceans
- Raw/Chilled/Frozen Cephalopods
- Chilled/Frozen Bivalves
- Frozen cooked Crustaceans/Frozen heat shucked Mollusca
- Dried/ Salted and Dried fishery Products
- Thermally Processed Fishery Products
- Fermented Fishery Products
- Smoked Fishery Products
- Accelerated Freeze dried Fishery Products
- Fish Mince/Surimi and analogues
- Fish Pickle
- Battered and Breaded Fishery products
- Convenience Fishery Products
- Powdered Fish based Products
The Reference Test Methods have also been provided.
Important sampling guidelines:
The sampling of various microbiolog
ical parameters, as specified in Table 1A and 1B, will be ensured as per sampling plan of Table 1C. A trained person in microbiology will start the experiment by following IS11427:2001 guidelines. These samples will be stored and transported to accredited laboratories under apt temperature condition, within 24 hours. A larger sample size might be drawn, if needed, as per the test requirement and type of food item. Preservatives will not be added to the sample, used for microbiological examination. The desired amount of samples, as per the sampling plans of Table 1A and 1B, must be taken from full-produced sections. These samples will get submitted to accredited labs in unopened packages, sealed to maintain the originality of the product. The final decision will be drawn after testing and retesting the microbiological parameters.
Significant terms are used by International Commission on Microbiological Specifications of Foods (ICMSF) for defining the examination:
m = states an acceptable value and level regarding sampling plan
n = Various numbers of sample units, which need to be examined from batch food, to satisfy the needs of the sampling plan
c= Maximum number of defective samples, which will be allowed to manufacturing units only
M = Defined as a microbiological criterion to indicate potentially hazardous quality
The exceeding level of any sampling plan can reject the whole lot and will attract prosecution or enforcement by food safety authorities. Go through Table 1C, which talks about sampling plan for compliance with different microbiological parameters at retail points and manufacturing units. Table 1C deals with sampling plan for compliance of microbiological parameters at retail points and manufacturing units.
Microbiological criteria, followed by interpretation: Three pivotal microbiological categories will be assigned to check safety and hygiene of organisms; unsatisfactory, satisfactory and potentially hazardous.
- Satisfactory: If the test of m or M, or both, are conforming specified limits, the microbiological quality is considered satisfactory. No such action will be taken.
- Unsatisfactory: If the results of m or M or both are not conforming hygienic limits, it indicates poor hygiene or poor handling practices. Some examples are Coagulase positive Staphylococci, Total plate count, and mold count. These microbiological quantities are marked as unsatisfactory. During such instances, manufacturing units will be investigated for non-compliance legal actions on defected items, by food safety authority. The subsequent release of similar product will subject to GMP audit clearance.
- Potentially hazardous: When the values of m or M or both, are not meeting the requirements of safety indicators, it then indicates serious safety concern. Such microbiological content, like Salmonella, E. coli, L. monocytogenes and Vibrio cholera will be termed as potentially hazardous. Under such situations, manufacturing procedures will be stopped, and legal actions shall be notified by food safety authority. This action will be followed by detailed risk assessment to investigate the cause of the problem.