The primary goals of food testing are to ensure that food is safe for consumption, that it meets specifications laid down by regulatory bodies and customers, and that the claims made on product labels are correct.

Food Testing Services

Food-related regulations specify that for all packaged food items the composition and nutritional values be declared on the label. It is essential that the label claim is accurate and that it closely aligns with the actual contents. Details on nutritional value and composition include the following:

  • Calorific value
  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Fibre
  • Sugar
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Food items covered under this requirement are as follows:

  • Pet foods/ Animal nutrition
  • Fish, shrimp and prawn
  • Bakery and confectionery
  • Beverages
  • Canned and processed foods
  • Cereals and pulses
  • Food additives and preservatives
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Infant foods
  • Jams, juices and sauces
  • Herbs, spices and condiments

Consumer concerns and government regulations are increasingly focusing on safety of foods. This in turn is creating the need for analysis of food for various contaminants, residues, and chemical constituents of concern. These compounds include pesticide residues, mycotoxins, antibiotic residues, GMOs, allergens, food adulterants, packaging material hazardous chemicals, environmental contaminants and other chemicals:

At TMC we offer reliable, accurate and well established quantitative methods to meet the needs of industry and government, in an effort to ensure a safe and reliable food supply. We lay emphasis on the most sensitive techniques for sample preparation and testing to overcome the significant challenge of detecting “low levels of these chemicals” in complex matrices.

  • Pesticide residue analysis
    • As per EU
    • As per APEDA
    • As per USP 561
    • As per FSSAI
    • AS per SFDA
    • As per Codex
    • As per Korean regulation
    • As per EP
    • As per USDA NOP for organic
    • As per US NOP for organic food
    • Special molecules & Plant growth regulators
      • Anthraquinone
      • Nicotine
      • Glyphosate & Glufosinate, Chlormaquat, Mepiquat, Ethephone
      • Inorganic bromide
      • Phosphine
      • Chlorate
      • Dithiocarbamate
      • Quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC/ BAC + DDAC)
      • Paraquat and Diquat
      • Fosetyl and phosphonic acid
      • Triacontanol
    • Other food regulation/ standards
  • Mycotoxin
    • Aflatoxin
    • Ochratoxin
    • Zearalenone
    • Deoxynivalenol
    • Nivarenol
    • Fumosinin
    • T-2 Toxin
  • Antibiotic residue
  • Poly nuclear Aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Contaminants
    • Melamine and Cyanuric acid
    • Heavy metals
    • Acrylamide
    • Sudan and illegal dyes
    • Dioxins and Furans
  • Residual solvent impurities
    • As per USP 467
    • As per DIRECTIVE 2009/ 32/ EC
    • Individual analytes, methanol, Hexane, Ethyl acetate etc

The microbiological profile of any food material or ingredient is a key indicator of its quality. Microbiology tests include those for:

  • Total plate count
  • Yeasts & Moulds
  • Coliforms
  • E. coli
  • E.Coli O157
  • Salmonella spp
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Equipment swab testing

Equipment validation: Testing for some of the abovementioned parameters is also critical for validation of equipment used in the production and processing of food materials.

It is mandatory for a food producer to declare a “best before” or “use by” date for “safety” and “health” reasons. The “health” reason is applicable to food that is intended by the manufacturer to form the sole source of nutrition for a person’s diet for a specified period. This will apply where storage affects the critical nutrient profile of products such as infant formula or special dietary foods manufactured to provide the sole source of nutrition to persons who are ill or are unable to eat normal foods.

The “safety” reason is applicable to food that can become microbiologically unsafe before the food noticeably spoils. This will not apply to shelf-stable, frozen or most raw foods but may apply to certain chilled ready-to-eat foods, for example, chilled meals and salads. The development of “use by” dates for safety reasons is discussed below. A “best before” date is applicable to food where deterioration affects consumer acceptance without impacting health and safety. Many product changes will affect consumer acceptance, including:

  • Organoleptic properties
  • Rancidity
  • Texture changes
  • Moisture loss
  • Moisture gain
  • Staling
  • Flavor loss
  • Light induced changes
  • Microbial spoilage

Species identification in food products has been the subject of an increasing number of reports because of its importance in food authentication and due to major advances in analytical methods.
Species identification is an important part in food authentication for several reasons, such as food safety, food choice, and religious practices. The presence of non-declared protein may have serious health consequences for persons suffering from an allergy. Animal-derived ingredients have to be absent in foods for vegetarians and vegans.

DNA Barcoding
Species identification has traditionally been based on morphological data and implemented in dichotomous identification keys. With easy access to increasingly affordable DNA sequencing, specimens can also be identified through sequence similarity in taxonomically curated sequence databases. Even a very short stretch of DNA can be sufficiently informative to enable the clustering of conspecific species. A single molecular marker is therefore often sufficient for DNA “barcoding,” where a unique sequence of a particular marker is referred to as a species barcode.

The quality and safety of food packaging and other food contact-related materials, is a primary concern for all consumers, businesses, and governments across the global supply chain. We offer consultation and testing on the requirements of the package materials as per IS – 9845, IS – 10171, IS – 15392 and FSSAI

  • Overall migration testing
  • Color migration
  • Toxic metals
  • Polyaromatic amine
  • Sensory analysis
  • Overall product safety analysis
  • Restricted substance testing – Bisphenol A

This refers to genetically altered crops that are grown in many areas around the globe. Genetic engineering provides the ability to confer desired traits on plants such as herbicide tolerance and/ or virus or insect resistance.
GMO food/ feed testing is based on some fundamental principles of genetic engineering and cellular physiology:

  • DNA: The introduction of foreign DNA into a recipient plant’s DNA (genetic engineering)
  • Protein: The information coded in DNA is translated into a protein that performs the function specified by the DNA instructions (cellular physiology)

GMO screening is required because agricultural products that contain GMO ingredients can unintentionally mix with non-GMO foods and feed

GMO detection is required to detect such cross-contamination across the entire supply chain.

Food sensory analysis is the use of the human senses to objectively analyze foods – for properties such as taste, flavor and texture. It is used in assessing the quality of products, troubleshooting problems and new product development.
What does the food actually look and taste like? Describing the taste of a food in a scientific way that can be interpreted by others and then using this to improve product quality in some way is a valuable and perhaps under–appreciated technique. Sensory analysis can be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Analytical testing (dealing with objective facts about products)
  • Affective testing (dealing with subjective facts such as preferences)
  • Perception (the biochemical and psychological aspects of sensation)

TMC has a team of experienced food tasters who can evaluate the flavor, odour and texture characteristics of products. Advanced statistical analysis then allows products to be grouped, and their similarities and differences quantified. These analyses can also be ‘checked’ as per customer’s Internal document and/ or National and International document to verify if the product meets requirements.

Food allergens are typically naturally-occurring proteins in foods or derivatives of them that cause abnormal immune responses. Prevalence of food allergies around the world is believed to be increasing, with more than 8% of children and 2% of adults in different countries and having allergy to one or more foods. The most common allergens for young children are milk and egg but fortunately, many children outgrow these allergies by the time they have reached 5-7 years of age. On the other hand, allergies such as those to seafood, peanut and tree nut may develop later and are lifelong conditions. Commonly known allergens are as follows:

  • Gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Celery and products thereof
  • Mustard
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites
  • Lupin and products thereof
  • Molluscs and products thereof

TMC can help food producers to do a Food Label verification and check the label for compliance with different National and International regulations.

The basic elements on a food packaging label usually include (unless the producers are exempt from labeling their product) :

  • Statement of identity
  • The product’s net weight
  • Manufacturer’s address
  • Nutrition facts
    • This is probably the most complicated part of a food label and must usually include serving size, nutrients, vitamins and minerals
    • There are strict guidelines and less strict recommendations as to the font colors, type, size, background colors, hairlines and placement of this part of the label
  • Ingredients list
    • Some exceptions apply here as well. For example, for a single-ingredient food product, such as honey, you may not need to include an ingredients list. This is only a small example of how complex labeling regulations can be and how carefully you need to inform yourself in order to accurately present your product to the consumers
    • Allergens, if present in food, should always be listed with the ingredients. If you are making any health claims such as “fat-free” you need to make sure your claim is 100% accurate.

Like food materials for human beings, animal feeds also need to undergo testing. Tests in animal feeds include the following:

  • Amino acid
  • Ash
  • Calcium
  • Chloride/ Salt
  • Carbohydrates
  • Drugs and antibiotics
  • Fat
  • Crude fiber
  • Moisture
  • Minerals
  • Microscopic analysis
  • Melamine detection
  • Phosphorus
  • Protein
  • Pepsin digestibility
  • Sugar
  • TDN or Total Digestible Nutrients
  • Calories

Adulteration has been around for thousands of years, however the 2007 melamine crisis in China was the first widely reported incidence of animals and babies falling ill en masse. To help protect consumers around the globe, we at TMC can help food business operators and consumers with the tools to detect adulteration and prevent this threat.

Quick reference to adulteration test at customer site:

Examples of adulteration:

  • Argemone & papaya Seeds being used in mustard seeds could cause epidemic dropsy and severe glaucoma
  • Starch being added to give rich texture to paneer, khoya & condensed milk and could cause stomach disorders
  • Pepper oil is added to ice cream which would cause kidney, lung and heart diseases
  • Coffee Powder is adulterated with tamarind seeds. Chicory powder is used as coloring agent & to add weight
  • Injectable dyes in watermelon, peas, capsicum, brinjal, papaya seeds
  • Sudan dyes which are meant to be used for coloring plastics and synthetic materials, are being used as coloring agents in food like red chili and other products. Sudan dyes have been identified as carcinogenic for humans and can pose severe health hazards
  • Milk could be found adulterated by adding water or by removing the cream or by adding artificial coloring agents like annatto, caramel, coal tar colors and preservatives like formaldehyde, boric & other acids etc
  • Meat & eggs could be found adulterated by adding preservatives like potassium nitrate, boric & other acids etc. Coloring matter like aniline red and cochineal-carmine is usually added colors
  • In vegetables, malachite green is used for bright glowing green color which may be carcinogenic for humans
  • Martius yellow is used to enhance the yellow color of food substances. It can be carcinogenic and could cause stomach disorders