Food sampling is the process of obtaining a sample/small amount of food that is representative of a population/lot of food for testing and analysis, with the goal of demonstrating the nature and quality of the entire specimen. A food sample is usually taken to ensure the product's safety and quality. By safety, we mean whether the ingredients and additives used are safe and free of contaminants and adulteration, and by standards, we mean whether the ingredients and additives used are in accordance with the product's standards or regulations, and whether the additives used are within the limits set.
Samples of Various Types
In general, the Food Safety Officers in our country draw two types of samples:
(a) Legal Sample: Food law enforcement is primarily the responsibility of state/UT Food Safety Officials. State authorities must have adequate sample rules, methods, and programmes in place to provide a well-balanced enforcement service and effectively safeguard consumers.
(b) Surveillance Sample: A sample taken for the purpose of surveillance, survey, or study that cannot be used in court. This is usually started by the Food Authority and might be an ongoing procedure.
Circumstances in which a sample is drawn
(a) When a Food Safety Officer has grounds to think that a food item is being manufactured, stocked, or sold in an unsafe manner; presented for sale in violation of the Act's requirements or the rules and regulations enacted under it.
(b) Complaints from customers.
c) Food Contamination Warnings and Food Suspected of Contamination
d) Changing community concerns
e) National monitoring programmes that are more extensive
f) New ventures
g) In existing enterprises, new goods or manufacturing techniques
h) Surveillance during plant inspections.
Procedure for collecting samples and sending them for analysis
This process should only be used when obtaining Legal Samples.
Number of Samples
Sample quantity should be sent to the food analyst.
The Food Analyst or an officer designated by him shall examine the seals on the container and the outer cover with the specimen imprint of seal obtained separately and note the state of the seal thereon upon receipt of the package containing a sample of food for analysis.
The Designated Officer's response to the Food Analyst's report.
If, after reviewing the report, the Designated Officer believes that the Food Analyst's report is incorrect for any reason(s) to be recorded in writing, he shall send one of the parts of the sample he has kept to a referral laboratory for analysis, and if the referral laboratory's analysis report states that the article of food is unsafe, substandard, misbranded, or contains foreign matter.
Purchasers have the option of having the food tested.
A purchaser of a food item may, if he so wishes, have the item analysed using the Food Authority's protocol.
The right of a food business owner to have his or her food tested
If the food business operator from whom the sample was taken, or the person whose name, address, and other personal information has been revealed, wishes to have the fourth part of the sample analysed, he must write to the Food Safety Officer and request that the sample be sent to any NABL accredited laboratory.
According to Chapter VIII, Section 43 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, one of the primary tasks of the FSSAI is to promote an ecosystem for food testing in labs for compliance with Food Safety standards.