FAO’s Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs meets in Kochi

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSA) and Spices Board are among key agencies in the country putting up new laboratories of global standards to ensure safety for food sold in the domestic market and spices exported from the country.

The need for a large number of laboratories to test food samples has turned out to be an urgent issue for the speedy implementation of the new food standards regime under the authority.

K. Chandramouli, Chairman of FSSA told The Hindu on Tuesday that the Union government planned to have a laboratory each for every 20 districts in the country by the end of the 12th Plan. He was speaking on the sidelines of the first session of Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs here. He admitted that even these numbers would be inadequate to meet the requirement for food sample testing but it would be a beginning, he said. There are 72 laboratories under the government in the country and 350 laboratories run in the private sector.

Chairman of the Spices Board A. Jayathilak said that the board planned to add two more spices testing laboratories during the current financial year. These will come up at Kandla and Kolkatta. The Spices Board has laboratories in Kochi, Chennai, Guntur, Mumbai, Tuticorin and Delhi.

The board is also encouraging spices export houses to set up their own laboratories so that the burden on the board labs can be reduced, Mr. Jayathilak said. Testing of spices has got more sophisticated over the years and the number of samples being tested has gone up from 10,000 a year in 2003 to 80,000 in 2013. This type of growth in testing calls for increased quality and quantity for the laboratories, he said.

Mr. Chandramouli said that the FSSA also faced the problem of not having enough number of qualified hands to man the proposed laboratories.

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