The quality of the food products as well as food safety depends a lot on the quality of the analytical data of the food testing laboratory. Food testing laboratories use laid down testing methods for known adulterations or chemical and microbiological contaminations. Testing labs also create their own testing methods for any kind of unintentional or unknown contamination. Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain unknown ingredients or allergens in food. In such cases the efficacy of the food testing laboratory scientists, technicians and the availability of up to date instrumentation go a long way in providing accurate data which will ensure food safety.
Food safety has become a global concern as foods and food grains are now imported and exported all over the globe. Since all food ingredients cannot be tested along the entire food chain by all food testing laboratories, food manufacturers, on many occasions, depend on the certificate of analysis provided by food testing laboratories they partner with. However, unless these laboratories have sophisticated instrumentation like the high-resolution mass spectrometers the analytical data can sometimes cause doubts.
Food manufacturers get their products tested in the food testing laboratories that have advanced instrumentation and analysts that are known to perform testing with a high degree of reliability and accuracy. If the testing lab does not have integrity then it is easy to persuade staff to provide inaccurate data for economic gain or data which can tilt towards ‘helping or adjusting’ rather than ensuring food safety for a large number of consumers that could be affected by the poor quality of foods. Sometimes inaccurate analytical data can be the result of human error but established food testing laboratories, have procedures that can correct such inaccurate errors.
A reliable food testing laboratories will carry out food testing by keeping in mind the need for
- good documentation practices
- experienced staff that can handle all kinds of analytical techniques
- analysts that prepare samples correctly
- technicians that know how to run sophisticated instrumentation
- accurate interpretation of results
Any food testing laboratory that shows the testing of samples multiple times till they have an accurate result or meet a specifications cannot be termed an accurate analytical data.
Food testing laboratories that correct or hide results of quality test failure cannot be considered to provide accurate analytical data. Any scrutiny of their analytical data could prove their analysis to be inaccurate. Food testing laboratory analytical data can be considered to be trustworthy only when it proves to be accurate using verifiable food testing methods. Recognised and accredited food testing laboratories often use a computerised system, as that prevents data tampering. Setting up a unique login requirement for analysts and control of users and technicians permitted to make changes can prevent any kind of fraud with computerised data.
It is imperative for food testing laboratories to follow the food testing methodology as outlined in food regulations. Laboratory personnel must be trained to follow the testing practices as outlined in the food regulations.