Our Correspondent | Kohima | May 14
The Nagaland state food laboratory today became the first in the entire North East to have upgraded to a level- 2 laboratory.
This is part of a Central Sector Scheme for strengthening of the food testing system in the country. The machines alone cost Rs. 10 crores, which was provided as non-recurring grant by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
It was inaugurated by I Himato Zhimomi, Principal Secretary cum Commissioner, Food Safety, Nagaland in a function held at the State Public Health Laboratory, Kohima.
Three major equipments have been provided to this level-2 laboratory. They include a Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (LCMS), Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICPMS).
The equipments can analyze a wide range of food components namely—cereals, oils, food products, beverages, spices, sweets, vegetables, additives etc, including organic, inorganic parts of the food contents like vitamins, proteins, peptides, amino acid hormones, food colours, minerals etc, and test their purity.
The Mass Spectrometer can distinguish food flavoring enhancers from natural origin or synthetic chemicals, natural or artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers or stabilizers etc. It can also identify natural or added synthetic food colours and quantify them. It also plays a significant role in identification and determination of molecular mass of heavy metal compounds like lead, arsenic, mercury etc, which may get into food or water bodies from the environment (water, soil & air).
The equipment also tests water quality or potential food contamination from its source of origin like environmental factors. It is a powerful tool for characterization of various biomolecules, including proteins, nuclei and carbohydrates; can analyze the nutritional composition or contents of food samples; and also detect or identify pesticides in food bodies and quantify the impurity.
Severe shortage of food safety officers
Zhimomi meanwhile appealed to food business operators to test their products in the laboratory before selling them to the public.
He said the state is fortunate to have a level 2 food lab equipped with high end equipments which can deliver results with high accuracy.
“Please come forward and test your stuffs in the laboratory,” he told the food business operators of the state. He also requested the food business operators to comply with the food safety rules.
Zhimomi informed that the state requires about 70 food officers as per FSSAI requirements. There is acute shortage of manpower at present, with the state having only 7 food officers at present.
“We now have all the modern food testing facility to cope with any food situation that arises,” said Khrukutolu Veswuh, Food Analyst, State Public Health Laboratory, Kohima.
She added that with the installation of the level-2 laboratory, the state is now in position to analyze all parameters as per the Food Safety Act, Regulations and Rules.
Vikeyie Losu, Principal Director & Additional Commissioner for Food Safety maintained that the set up of the state public health laboratory has progressed step by step from its dormant stage to becoming the first state in the entire North East to be installed with a level 2 food lab.
Dr. Akuo Sorhie, Joint Director cum Programme Officer, Food safety meanwhile said that `the department is committed to disseminate the seriousness and gravity of unsafe, adulterated food in the state. She called upon all to promote food safety and make Nagaland an “adulterated free state.”
Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation (NVCO) President, Kezhokhoto Savi congratulated the department and assured to work with them to spread awareness on food safety.