There is good news for the food industry which is locked in a fight against pathogens during the manufacture of processed foods to assure the consumer that their finished products are safe for consumption. Large scale food processing involves safety assessment of raw materials used and the finished goods coming out of the processing line. In between, on-line process monitoring is also important to avoid shop floor contamination that will call for higher process parameters than the one designed. It is a tribute to the pharmaceutical industry that
rapid techniques are being evolved for fighting infectious diseases and food industry is one of the beneficiaries as it can gainfully use these methods for safety assessment in foods without waiting for long time.
"Technology developments and changes have initiated sweeping changes in the market for automated and rapid microbiological tests. With probe tests threatening the survival of immunoassay based rapid tests and with advances in automated microbiological testing systems promising potential opportunities, the landscape is fraught with a unique mixture of opportunities and related threats. The new methods offer greater speed, accuracy, specificity and sensitivity than can be achieved with conventional culturing or immunoassay methods. Molecular diagnostics is the new enabling technology of numerous next generation rapid microbiology test kits".
While such rapid strides are being made elsewhere in the world, most of the food industry players in India do not have even the basic lab facility for culturing a microorganism let alone go through reliable safety assessment protocol. There are many industrial units enjoying the ISO and HACCP certication, not having such facilities. It is a tragedy that industry does not consider investment on microbiological assay facilities and experienced microbiologists as a priority, probably because of lack of product liability and accountability regime in the country and a lax system of monitoring and enforcement that allows culprits to go scotfree.