Quality assurance is one of the end-line functions of the FSSAI. Given that food safety is critical to ensure food health, the FSSAI works to ensure that any and all food consumed in the country is in accordance with safety standards. This responsibility that it is tasked with, is in a way a great burden on the larger department, as the entire country’s health will in effect, be on its shoulders. This is where quality assurance comes into the picture. The department strives to ensure quality food products at multiple levels, which are given below:
1. Ingredients – This has to do with the usage of quality and clean ingredients.
2. Food Manufacturing – The manufacturing process comprises of several steps, meaning that food can pass through multiple lines of preparation, before it is finally ‘prepared’. The FSSAI ensures that the entire food manufacturing process is well maintained, with regard to cleanliness, existing safety standards, etc.
3. Packaging – Once a food product is prepared, the next step involves its packaging. This is especially true for products that are sold in shops or supermarkets. The packaging process is also subjected to the oversight of the FSSAI, to ensure that the entire process is in accordance with existing food safety regulations.
4. Storage – This is the last part of the supply chain, where the food is stored in warehouses or other such places, before being delivered to the market for consumption. The FSSAI is responsible for ensuring that warehouses and other storage terminals are well maintained in accordance with current rules and regulations.
5. Import Functions – Not all food is made within the country. A lot of the food is imported from other countries, which makes it necessary to have a governmental oversight on them. This process of regulatory oversight on imported food is also carried out by the FSSAI.
The quality assurance with regard to labs is done through a process of accreditation, where labs are certified as being in accordance with FSSAI standards. There are currently three major standards in existence:
1. FSSAI notified NABL accredited labs- 112
2. State Labs-72
3. Referral Labs-14