In the directions issued by FSSAI, dated 13 April 2016 the FSSAI has prescribed the maximum limits of extraneous matter in raw pulses. The standards prescribing the maximum limit of extraneous matter in raw pulses has now been approved by the Food Authority. These standards were first proposed by FSSAI in January 2016. After receiving comments, views and suggestions from stakeholders the FSSAI has directed that these standards be followed.
In the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, in the regulation dealing with Food grains a new clause has been added. This clause gives the prescribed standards for maximum limits of foreign matter in unprocessed whole raw pulses (not for direct human consumption).
- The new standards have limited extraneous matter in unprocessed whole raw pulses to a Max 3.0 of percent by weight of which Max 0.5 percent by weight shall be mineral matter and impurities of animal origin.
- In addition, unprocessed whole raw pulse shall also have to conform to the requirements of other parameters prescribed under this same regulation previously.
The FSSAI has also directed all state and UT enforcement officials to implement these standards which prescribe the maximum limit of extraneous matter in raw pulses till the final notification is issued.
About extraneous matter
According to FSSAI regulations “foreign matter” means any extraneous matter other than food grains. Extraneous matter can be inorganic matter like metallic pieces, sand, gravel, dirt, pebbles, glass, stones, lumps of earth, clay and mud and animal filth. It can be organic matter consisting of husk, straws, weed seeds and other inedible grains. Foreign matter can enter food grains during production, storage, or distribution. The presence of foreign matter in food grains can be considered as adulteration and the food grains could be found unsuitable for processing or for human consumption.
Food safety and quality control are essential for the food industry and so food manufacturers are very careful in ensuring that there is no foreign matter in foods. Presence of extraneous matter can lead to recalls and rejection of the foods which leads to loss in investment. Ensuring unprocessed food grains are free of extraneous matter is part of good manufacturing practices and reflects on good sanitary conditions. When good manufacturing practices are not followed, extraneous matter can lead to problems in the value chain, damage equipment, cause injuries to consumers and can even lower the brand value.
Analysis of extraneous matter is important when selecting raw materials for processing as any foreign matter that enters processed food is not only unappealing but can pose as a health hazard for the consumer. Foreign matter contamination can be reduced or prevented through physical examination of the food grains, sieving, filtering, using magnets or metal detectors to detect metals and even sophisticated x-ray scanning and radar detection systems.
Ensuring that foods maintain the maximum permitted limits of extraneous matter means that the food producer is ensuring that consuming them will not cause injury or health hazard. Unlike microbial contamination that can cause food poisoning in many people at the same time extraneous matter normally causes injury to a single consumer but even that can damage the reputation of a brand especially if it becomes a newspaper headline.