The Analytical Food Testing Laboratory at IIT Kharagpur has created history by becoming the country’s first lab among all the IIT’s and NIT’s to get NABL (National Accreditation Board for Calibration and Testing Laboratories) Accreditation. This will empower IIT-KGP to certify food items for their nutritional value and also check for adulteration.
NABL is a Constituent Board of Quality Council of India, its certification is necessary for food manufacturers and marketers of packed food items. Certification from an NABL accredited laboratory is seen as a stamp of approval on the nutrition content and food safety standard of the product.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data dated August 8, 2017given in Rajya Sabha there are 219 Food Testing Laboratories in India out of them 131 are NABL accredited. According to the data West Bengal so far has 5 NABL accredited food testing labs. The current recognition for the IIT-KGP lab under department of Agriculture and Food Engineering will take the count to 6.
But what makes this recognition helpful for those living in Eastern India is the fact that the Analytical Food Testing (AFT) Laboratory of IIT Kharagpur has high-end infrastructure enabling it to do several complicated testing’s, which is otherwise not possible in this part of the country. “It is a recognition for us. This is for the first time any lab in any of the IITs or NITs in the country have been given this accreditation. We can now certify the food testing for which we have got the accreditation. This certification also talks about the quality and standard of our lab and infrastructure,” said Dr. Rintu Banerjee, Professor of the
department of Agriculture and Food Engineering and in-charge of the AFT Lab of IIT Kharagpur. She further added that we have all high end equipment which gives a very high precision of testing.
This high-end lab will be especially helpful in detecting food adulteration done in sophisticated manner. “Our lab has all the high end equipments, which delivers very precise and accurate result. It also empowers us to do sophisticated test say for example Protein Sequencer, which is only available here in entire Eastern India,” said Dr. Banerjee. Detailed analyses of proteins are very helpful to check the quality of eggs, to be more precise, to see if they are real eggs or plastic eggs, or adulteration in milk etc, any proteinaceous food materials” Dr. Banerjee added.
Apart from food manufacturing and marketing companies even private individuals will be able to avail the service of the lab against a fee. “Often companies claim that their biscuits and oils are enriched in vitamins. Atta’s claim to be multi grain. Honey’s claim to have fortified micro nutrients. Milks and eggs claim to be vitamin enriched and fat or cholesterol free. Anyone can give us a sample to see if the claim is true.
The government of India is already taking steps to implement food safety norms across the nation. In order to bring in consistency in enforcing food safety regulations and standards across States, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is set to launch its ‘One Nation One Food Law’ initiative. “Now, with this accreditation we will have an important role to play in promoting food safety among the people,” Dr. Banerjee signed off.