E-coli testing in imported fresh fruits and vegetables should be mandatory. This was unanimously opined by the scientific panel on Contaminants or Biological Hazards of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in its recent meeting discussing Biological Hazards, in New Delhi.
The panel also opined that given the recent spate of food-borne illnesses in the country, there was an urgent need to review the microbiological standards for fruits, vegetables and spices. Minimum microbiological parameters and their limit to the safe level for proprietary foods must also be fixed.
Based on the expertise of the members, the task of preparing draft documents on microbiological standards of fruits & vegetable products and spices was assigned to Dr Bhupendra Singh, senior scientist, NRL, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, and Dr Malabika Roy, scientist ‘F’ j, deputy director-general (Sr Gr), division of reproductive health and nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, respectively.
At the meeting, Adesh Mohan, senior inspecting officer, and the chairperson of the panel, requested to seek clarification from the Authority whether toxins like mycotoxins would come under the purview of the panel.
The Expert’s Thought: E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can get into food, like beef and vegetables. Though, they help in food digestion in our Intestine, certain strain mix with the blood and cause serious illness. Therfore, it is necessary to have to regular eye on these strains by testing the food from accredited Laboratory.