Food Safety And Microbial Standards, Food Quality Standards,


Food safety and Microbial standards, Food quality standards

Food safety-Indicators of food microbial Quality and safety-Coliforms, Enterococci, Bifidobacteria, Coliphages/Enteroviruses, predictive Microbiology/ Microbial modeling

Microbial Standards of Processed and preserved Foods

The Center for disease control (CDC) investigates each documented outbreak of food borne disease and attempts to determine not only the specific microorganisms and foods involved but also the events which led to the outbreak.

Indicators of Food Safety:

Microbial indicators are employed more often to assess food safety and sanitation than quality. Ideally a food safety indicator should meet certain important criteria.

  1. It should be easily and rapidly detectable
  2. It should be easily distinguishable from other members of the food biota.
  3. It should have a history of constant association with the pathogen whose presence it is to indicate
  4. It should always be present when the pathogen of concern is present
  5. It should be an organism whose numbers ideally should correlate with those of the pathogen of concern.
  6. It should possesses growth requirements and a growth rate equaling or exceeding that of the pathogen
  7. It should have a die-off rate at least it parallels that of the pathogen and ideally persists slightly longer than pathogen of concern.
  8. It should be absent from foods that are free of the pathogen except perhaps at certain minimum numbers.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) System

  • HACCP is a system that should lead to the production of microbiologically safe foods by analyzing for the hazards of raw materials-those that may appear throughout processing and those that may occur from consumer abuse.
  •  It is a proactive, systematic approach to controlling food bome hazards.
  • Although some classic approaches to food safety rely heavily on end product testing, the HACCP system places emphasis on the quality of all ingredients and all process steps on the premise that safe products will result if these are properly controlled.
  • The system is thus designed to control organisms at the point of production and preparation.

HACCP principles:

Although interpreted variously, the ICMSF and NACMCF view HACCP as a natural and systematic approach to food safety and as consisting of the following seven principles:

  1. Assess the hazards and risks associated with the growing, harvesting, raw materials, ingredients, processing, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, preparation, and consumption of the food in question.
  2. Determine the CCP(s) required controlling the identified hazards.
  3. Establish the critical limits that must be met at each identified CCP.
  4. Establish procedures to monitor the CCP(s).
  5. Establish corrective actions to be taken when there is a deviation identified by monitoring a given CCP.
  6. Establish procedures for verification that the HACCP system is working correctly.
  7. Establish effective record-keeping systems that document the HACCP plan.

Coli forms:

    • Etiologic agent of cholera in 1885.
    • Originally named as bacterium coli concerne because it was present in the stools of each patient he examined.
    • Schardinger – suggested the use of this organism as an index of fecal pollution. Rapidly than individual water borne pathogens.
    • A test for this organism as a measure of drinking water portability was suggested in 1895 by T. Smith.
    • They produce metallic sheen on calories embager coliforms, citro bacter, Enterobacter, klebsicela, Raoultella.
    • IMVIC formula is the classic method used.

(I = Indole Production; M = Methyl red reaction; V = Voges – Proskauer reaction; C = Citrate utilization)

Coliphages / Enterovinuses:

  • Indirect indicators.
  • A coli phage assay procedure for water samples that contain five or more phases / 100ml and that can be completed in 4-6 hours is described in “Standard methods for the examination of water and waste water”


Tissier (1908) identified and named as Bacillus bifidus. Later it was named as Lacto bacillus bifidus and contently known as Bifidobacterium bifidum.

  • Commonly present in stools
  • They are gram positive anaerobic bacteria as indicators of fecal pollution, especially of waters.
  • Some bifido bacteria are employed in the production of fermented milks, yogurt and other food products and they are belived to provide some health benefits.
  • Growth conditions – Temperature min 25-28°C and max 43-45°C and PH 5-8
  • Produce lactic and acetic acids as the major end products of their carbohydrate metabolism


  • Found in human feces at higher lutes per gram (108 – 109 ) than E. coli (106 – 107 ) and this makes them more attractive as indicators of human fecal pollution.
  • By using the bifide bacteria, it is possible to determine their origin among the following three sources: human feces, animal feces or environmental conditions.
  • Gavinietal (1991) devised the method to distinguish between human and animal strains and it devides bifido bacteria into suten groups.
  • Human origin belong to I, III and VII.
  • B. adolescentis and B. longum are mount often isolated in highest numbers.

Coliform criteria and standards:

  1. Grade A pasteurized milk & milk products including cultured products not over 10/ml
  2. Certified raw milk not more 10/ml. Certified pasteurized milk not over 1/ml
  3. Pre cooked & partially cooked frozen foods not over 10/ml
  4. Crab meat not over 100/ml
  5. Custard filled items not over 100/ml

IEMSF – International commission on the microbiological specifications for foods


E. Faecalis (M. ovalis)

    • Pollution indicators for water:
  1. They generally do not multiply in water especially if the organic matter content is low.
  2. They are generally less numerous in human feces than E.coli
  3. The enterococci die off at a slower rate than coliformds in waters.
  • E. Faccium present in hogs & wild boars, E. Faccalis present in feces of vanity of mammals
  • Grows at 10°C – 45°C
  • PH – 9.6
  • Mole % GTC – 37 – 45
  • Enterococci are more fastidious in their nutritional requirements for more growth factors
  • Although they are aerobes but they do not produce catalise.

Predictive microbiology or Microbial modeling:

    • Microbial modeling or predictive microbiology is a rapidly emerging sub discipline that entails the use of mathematical models/equations to predict the growth and/or activity of microorganisms in a food product over time.
    • It is applied in heat process calculations in the canning of low acid foods, food poisoning and food spoilage organisms by the use of more sophisticated mathematical / computer models that can handle more growth parameters.
    • The effective applications of predictive microbiology require the selection of appropriate to reflect the effect of growth parameters. Among the many models that have been proposed and tested are two kinetic models – the non linear arrhenius and Belebradek types.
    • Non linear Arrhenius model is applied with the dependent variable expressed as in (logarithm) rate latter square root model; the dependent variable is expressed as rate.
    • Computer software packages for predictive microbiology are available from private and commercial sources.
    • One of the simplest applications of predictive microbiology is the use of Monte Carlo simulation. Based on collected dates to predict shelf life/safety relative to changes in environmental parameters such as PH, aw etc.

Food quality standards

  • The present initiative of the government seeks to meet the requirements of the food sector and is aimed at bringing together the proposed initiatives of the Ministry of Food Processing Industry (MoFPI), as well as related schemes proposed by other concerned ministries like the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Health, and Department of Consumer Affairs — all of which are directly involved in the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
  • The initiative has certain components.

Some of these are:

  • Under the new scheme of upgradation of hygiene and quality of street food of the Ministry, 10,000 street vendors across the nation would be identified, profiled and steps taken to upgrade the safety and quality of their food. They would also be granted quality certification on the basis of standards which have already been worked out by the Ministry.
  • Also, 10 food streets with ethnic cuisine will be identified, under which the majority of stakeholders would be upgraded in terms of quality and hygiene, and support will be given for creation of infrastructure such as drainage, water supply, lighting, etc., so that these efforts result in more hygienic and safe conditions of food preparations.
  • A protocol based on best international and trade standards would be prepared and checks against the prepared protocol in HACCP certified units would be conducted. The field protocol will be evaluated and companies graded into Platinum, Gold and Silver categories.
  • National and regional industry associations would be involved in identifying units and launching a programme for capacity building through HACCP or ISO 22000 for the food processing units who are members of their Organisations. Under this programme, 10,000 units could be targeted, which would be taken up, profiled and detailed programmes drawn up for upgradation and follow-up steps launched. Certification would be achieved within a period of 18 months.
  • 50 food safety laboratories will be identified which would be benchmarked against industry best practices and a plan of action drawn up for their upgradation. Steps will be initiated to bring them up to best practice levels within the next two years.Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) have already been identified as a thrust area for improving traceability, hygiene and safety of food items. Across the country, 10,000 farmers would be identified (approximately 500 in each state) who would be taken in a step by step process to achieve certification of GAP or for organic food. Viable projects would be created so that the agri-horticultural produce from these farms is marketed and the returns accrue to the farmers.
  • The current Food Safety Standards under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act would be reviewed in consultation with stakeholders, and revised proposals would be drawn up for consideration of the Central Food Authority.
  • Along with the Quality Council of India, a brochure has been brought out on the food safety issues faced by a housewife and safe practices required in the kitchen. The QCI has also been roped in to introduce food safety issues in schools and proper teaching material has been drawn up through an expert group.
  • In addition, the QCI is also part of a project to publish a book on Indian cuisine and its relation to cultural aspects. Alternatively, the best few books in the area of cuisine and food will be identified and rewarded.
  • To support the Indian food industry, there are certification bodies that offer solutions to industry for certification, inspections and training.
  • 17025:2005 (NABL) accredited laboratories in our country are offering routine to highly specialised testing, e.g. nutritional labelling test, chemical and microbiological test, analysis of antibiotics and pesticide residues, heavy metals, vitamin estimations and shelf life studies.
  • The certification bodies offer NABCB, DAR, etc. accredited certifications for ISO 9K, 14K, 18K, 22K, HACCP, BRC Global Food & Packaging, IFS, Fami-QS, GMP+, etc.
  • The MoFPI has also chalked out a three-pronged strategy to attain food safety and quality. While coordination between the various ministries and state governments tops the list, the other moves include a global focus on the quality of food.
  • Simply put, this only underscores that food safety and quality are of paramount importance to sustain and increase the country’s food exports.
  • While globalisation and the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers have brought in international competition to the domestic markets, it has prompted the Indian food industry to adopt strong practices of food safety and quality in order to be competitive.
  • Also, it is important to note that improving food safety and quality has to be a constant and continuous effort rather than a one-shot effort, and all stakeholders from the government and its institutions, to the industry, spanning the entire food chain, academic and research institutions, consumer bodies, and professionals in the field have to be involved in it.
  • Awareness, or rather the creation of it, is the only solution.
  • The endeavour should be to include food safety and quality, as well as consumer rights in the curriculum of schools so that future consumers will become aware of their rights and demand the best quality food. Simultaneously, proper training programmes for food handlers working in the processing industries in their native language are essential

What is Codex Alimentarius?

  • The Codex Alimentarius is the food code that has become the global food standard for consumer foods, food producers and processors, national food regulatory agencies and international trade practices. The code has enormous impact and its influence extends to every continent.
  • The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • It chalked out the blueprint to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts, such as codes of practice, under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
  • The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
  • Ever since its creation, the Commission coordinates all of the food standards work done by international governmental and non-governmental organisations and makes recommendations for compliance regulations.
  • With the 1985 UN Resolution (39/248), the Codex became the guideline for governments in developing and enforcing consumer protection policies around the world. Various international trade agreements in the global food market have also called for complying with the Codex.
  • Its standards have also become the benchmarks against which food regulations are evaluated within the legal parameters of WHO agreements. The reach of the Codex, however, has changed over the years.
  • The Codex system has presented a unique opportunity for all countries to join the international community in formulating and harmonising food standards and ensuring their global implementation.
  • It also allows them a role in the development of codes governing hygienic processing practices and recommendations relating to compliance with those standards.
  • The Codex Alimentarius is not the only product of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Its scientific mission has become as influential.
  • It establishes the scientific standards for food quality and safety, food production, labeling laws, food legislation and food regulations.
  • Its scientific reviews and science- based efforts bring together experts and specialists from a wide range of disciplines “to ensure that its standards withstand the most rigorous scientific scrutiny.”
  • The WHO and the FAO point out that the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission has provided a focal point for foodrelated scientific research and investigation, and the Commission itself has become an important international medium for the exchange of scientific information about food.

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