The role of Quality Assurance in the Food Industry is very crucial for almost all people around the world. Food is consumed by us on the daily basis and what we eat has a direct effect on our body. This effect can be both ways it may be positive or negative. If the food contains some inappropriate component for our body then it may lead to some serious health issues. In the present world, packaged food has deepened its root everywhere. This industry has got a lot of consumers. So it becomes necessary for them to assure the quality of the product they sell.
Role of Quality Assurance in the Food Industry
Here are the key role of Quality Assurance in the food industry:
1. Quality Assurance is important to adopt a set of measures or setting criteria for providing a quality end product for the consumers.
2. Food-based organizations must maintain the procurement of the product till it’s delivered to the consumer.
3. QA Department is necessary to protect the consumer from any danger due to any contaminated food and ensure the customer gets value for the amount he paid.
4. Quality Assurance is not the responsibility of just the QA department but the whole organization.
5. There should be a system in the industry to ensure the procedures are implemented properly for maintaining the quality.
6. Supplier quality assurance in the food industry is also important to make sure that every element used in the preparation is safe. Contamination in the raw material is some of the common practices which are not only harmful to the consumer but also to the equipment in the factory.
7. It also saves the company from false accusations by the middlemen, customers and suppliers.
8. External Agencies should be invited at regular intervals to check and suggest improvement in the quality assurance methods and the procedures of production.
Guidelines: Food Quality Assurance
Every country has some rules and regulations for FBOs which are necessary to be followed.
1. Food businesses should have the Quality Assurance programme to inspect and test the food annually and the quality of water used in the preparation of product twice a year.
2. The testing of water should be done based on ISO 10500 which includes various parameters like microbial, chemical and physical parameters.
3. It is preferred for industries to have in house labs with a trained analyst to undertake quality check at regular intervals.
4. In unavailability of in house lab, food and water testing should be done in a NABL accredited labs as per FSSAI.
5. When any complaint is reported, the company should voluntarily do the food and water testing in an in-house or a NABL accredited lab.
6. According to FSSAI license terms, the food-based organizations should test the chemical and microbial components to ensure that the food item delivered is safe for eating by the consumer.
7. The testing labs should be updated and calibrated at regular intervals to meet the current testing requirements.
8. The data of the testing should be maintained properly so that it can be used for future analysis and improvements.
9. The Quality Assurance Systems should be adopted which provides a set of guidelines that can help in verification of quality assurance process and safety of the food.
Some examples of these systems are GAPs, GMPs, GHPs, and HACCPs systems
10. Codex Alimentarius Commission is followed by International Organisations. Along with this the FAO/WHO food standards program, WTO, SPS, TBT, agreements and ISO standards are also followed by companies.
11. The quality assurance systems adopted globally are based on science-based standards. Codex standards are examples of it.
Different Aspects of Quality And Safety Systems
1. To minimize the level of contaminations the QA process should be adopted.
2. It sets the limit of the additives added during the preparation of the product. So that the end product is free from causing any potential health issues when consumed.
3. It involves looking into the minimum legal requirements of the product quality attributes.
Quality Assurance at different Stages of Production
There are generally three stages in a food factory where quality assurance is important.
1. Raw Materials Receiving Stage
The producing of a quality product is possible only when the raw materials used in it are also of good quality. Since it is the starting point in the production, so it is very important to assure the quality of the raw material before using it in the process.
Steps for Quality Assurance at Raw Materials Receiving Stage
1. There must be some specifications set and only those received good should be accepted that meet those specifications.
2. The purchase should only be done from licensed suppliers.
3. The packaging and temperature of the raw material should be checked to prevent any spoilage.
4. The vehicle used for transportation should also be conditioned for carrying food products.
5. After receiving the raw material should be cleaned, sorted, graded and sanitized before forwarding it for further processing.
6. It should also be stored in desirable storage conditions.
2. Food Processing Stage
Proper attention is required during the food processing stage. Various parameters should be checked for ensuring the production of quality and safe end product like correct amount of ingredients, accurate method of preparation, mixing, processing time, temperature and some more, specific for the product.
Steps for Quality Assurance at the Food Processing Stage
1. Food samples should be tested at random intervals for colour, acidity, moisture, microbiological test, chemical test, weight and volume.
2. The processing equipment should be cleaned and sanitized from time to time.
3. To check food safety, spoilage and any other risk Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system and ISO 9000 standards can be adopted.
3. Finished Product Stage
At this stage, it is inspected that how many and up to what level the specifications have been met by the final packaged product.
Steps for Quality Assurance at the Finished Product Stage
1. Sampling should be done according to the sampling plan.
2. Internal testing should be done before sending for delivery.
3. The testing should also be done by independent testing labs.
4. The finished product should be passed through sensors to check the presence of any harmful material.
5. Packaging should be done as per the food product’s storage and transportation requirements.
6. The important information should be labelled on the packaging including the important information a customer should know.
Quality Assurance is a necessary component in the food processing industries so that the final food product consumed by anyone is safe and worth the amount paid to purchase it.