May 5, 2018

Excess ash content in noodle – what does it mean?

The difference between the two is demonstrated by comparing the characteristics given for macaroni products and seasoning in following tables.
Macroni Products-
S.No. Characteristics Requirements
1 Moisture Not more than 12.5%
2 Total Ash Not more than 1% on dry basis
3 Ash insoluble in dilute HCl (on dry basis) Not more than 0.1%
4 Nitrogen Not less than 1.7% on dry basis
S.No Characteristic Requirement
1 Moisture % (by weight) (Maximum) 10.0
2 Acid insoluble Ash in dilute HCl % (on dry basis) (Maximum) 2.0
It can be seen from the aforementioned tables that for macaroni products ash content is measured in two ways. First, total Ash basis and second, on ash insoluble in dilute HCL on dry basis. For total Ash basis limit prescribed is 1% and for Ash insoluble in dilute HCL on dry basis it is 0.1%. In contrast to this for seasoning, ash content is measured in only one way i.e., ash soluble in dilute HCL on dry basis for which limit is 2%. So, one can clearly see that there is a marked difference in the limit of ash prescribed for Macaroni products and seasoning. For macaroni products it is 0.1%; whereas for seasoning it is 2%. Therefore, in seasoning 20 times more ash content is allowed than for macaroni products where noodles and pasta are covered.
Recently, FSSAI brought in amendment in under Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2016 to introduce standards for “Instant Noodle” which clearly states that it would not apply to seasoning. This also suggest that seasoning is treated different from noodle and there are no standards for seasoning.
On the other hand, the state food safety authority would argue that they acted on the Advisory by FSSAI in 2015which prescribed 1% limit for tastemaker as well and the same has not been withdrawn till date.
In such circumstances, it appears a small clarification on part of FSSAI would settle the whole dispute. In the past FSSAI has issued a clarification in similar circumstances on the issue of declaration regarding Monosodium Glutamate wherein it had retracted from its earlier interpretation which they later thought to be incorrect. The industry would be eagerly waiting for such clarification.
With single-brand retailing making its way in India, foreign investors are seeing food processing as the next big sunrise sector in India. As more and more international F&B brands would be foraying in to Indian market, the FSSAI and other food regulatory bodies in the country should come up with clear guidelines and standardized norms to adapt with the evolving food market in India.

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