Apex food regulator, FSSAI has issued the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) 8th Amendment Regulations, 2020, associated with microbiological needs for spices and herbs.

Food Business Operators (FBOs) shall abide by all the provisions of these norms by July 1, 2021, states the notice.

As per the notification, two separate tables are assigned for pre-market and post- market scenarios for microbiological requirements.

The notification declares that the microbiological standards in relation to the product categories mentioned in Table-3A (Process Hygiene Criteria) associated with aerobic colony count, yeast and mould count, Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus aureus, depict the acceptable operation of the production process. These are not to be utilized as requirements for releasing the products in the market. These are indicative values exceeding which rectifying actions are needed in order to sustain the hygiene of the process in accordance with food law. These shall be applicable at the termination point of the manufacturing procedure.

The Microbiological Standards in Table-3B (Food Safety Criteria) linked to salmonella, sulphite lowering clostridia and bacillus cereus, delineate the usefulness of a batch/lot and shall be met in respect of the products at the end of manufacturing process and the products in the market during their shelf- life.

The notification also talks about sampling plans and guidelines. The guidelines state that the sampling should be validated by an expertise person with ‘specialised knowledge’ in the field of microbiology in compliance with the ISO 707 (the most recent version).

The regulations also mentioned about the reference testing approaches for parameters such as aerobic plate count, yeast and mould count, Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Sulfite-reducing bacteria, and bacillus cereus.

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