Quality Control

Quality & Food Safety is the foundation of any food processing industry. In the sea food industry, quality control is a very vital element as quality of the products processed is highly heterogeneous and perishable in nature, particularly under tropical conditions. Realizing this, the industry has adopted modern methods of handling, processing besides adequate quality control measures to improve the quality of sea food.

Over the past few years, safety has become very topical subject eliciting a great deal of public concern particularly in the developed countries, where food safety offences are now regarded at Government level.  Selling, offering for sale, possessing and or advertising for sale of food that does not comply with food safety requirements are now offences as per food safety requirements.  Enforcement Officers have been given very detailed and powerful new provisions for dealing with the process, premises and equipments that contravene the legislation or pose a threat to the health of the consumer. 

As technology advance and public awareness grows, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of the choice, quality, freshness, nutritional value and microbiological safety of food.  Advances in food technology has helped to curtail opportunities for microbiological hazards and significant developments in laboratory diagnosis such as the novel techniques developed viz: Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), High Performance Liquid Chromatograph coupled with Mass Spectrometry (HPLC with MS MS) etc. which facilitates not only the detection of pathogens / residue levels much more quickly but also to a level of minute sensitivity.  These developments have contributed to major improvement in ensuring safety of food.

To cope up with the increasing demand for safe food and to satisfy the needs of health / quality conscious consumers of the global seafood market, MPEDA has identified the following thrust areas for development / improvement and implement programmes as under:

i)    Product development for export:  

            Research and development of new products  
            Training in new technology and inviting overseas technical
              experts to India

ii)   Quality improvement

            Imparting training to technologists of Indian seafood industry
              on various aspects of quality control.

            Entrusting special research projects on quality problems with
              National Research Institutes as and when required.

            Monitoring of seafood quality in landing and pre-processing

            Integrated development programme for upgrading seafood
              quality by providing infrastructural facilities like pre-processing
              centers and setting up of mini lab towards quality assurance.

            Evolving standards for compliance for export of fish and
              fishery products to various developed countries based on
              standards / norms / regulations prescribed by such countries from time to time.  

Salient features of some of the standards now being implemented in India are given below:

The Regulations (EC)EC Directive No.91/493/EEC dated July 22, 1991 prescribes the health conditions for the production and placement of fish and fishery products on the unified European market and came into force with effect from 1.1.1993.

This Directive also lays down procedure for fixing conditions for imports from third countries, depending on health situation in those countries.  It stipulates that inspections may be carried out on the spot by experts from the Commission and the Member States  to assess the capability of the Competent Authority, to verify the conditions of production, storage and despatch of fish and fishery products to the European Union.  While fixing import conditions, the European Commission has taken into consideration the following:

      The legislation of the exporting country

      The organization of the Competent Authority of the exporting country.

      Actual health conditions during production, storage and dispatch

      Assurance, which the exporting country can give on compliance with EC standards.

      Name of the final authority which issues the health certificate

      Organization of the final authority, its infrastructural facilities for inspection, laboratory testing etc.

The authority’s legal basis, which gives its powers and its facilities for effectively verifying the implementation of the legislation in force.  

Having satisfied with all such requirements, the European Commission has approved imports from the approved establishments in India.

Click here for the latest EU approved plants

Consequent to the promulgation of US Seafood Regulation on HACCP on 18th December 1995, it has become mandatory that every processor and importer has to comply with HACCP with effect from 18.12.1997.   MPEDA constituted HACCP Cell in early 1996 to assist the Indian seafood industry for the effective implementation of HACCP.  The major activities of  the HACCP Cell are :  

      Organizing training programmes in HACCP basic principles, audit etc. for the benefit of technical personnel in the seafood industry and related departments.  So far, 32 such programmes were organized for the benefit of over 900 technical personnel. 

      Assisting the seafood establishments in the preparation of HACCP manual, certification of such manuals, certification of HACCP compliance etc.  So far, 26 processing establishments in India are issued with HACCP compliance certificate by MPEDA.

      Inviting Consultants from US FDA, NMFS, FAO / INFOFISH etc. from time to time which facilitates in updating knowledge on HACCP and strengthen the technical base of MPEDA and the industry.

      Technical personnel of MPEDA are trained in India and abroad on various aspects of HACCP including HACCP Audit. 

Besides, MPEDA Lab at Cochin has facilities to test seafood samples for heavy metals, pesticides and antibiotic residues using advanced technology.  Apart from maintaining good rapport with regulatory authorities in the importing countries, MPEDA is serving as a member in the Export Inspection Council of India, Bureau of Indian Standards and National Committee of Codex Alimentarius.