FOR MICROBIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY
Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 (Appendix B, Table 2 notes), specifies microbiological requirements at manufacturing unit only. There is no requirement at retail level. However, microbiological requirements should be maintained up to retailer’s end as consumers buy the paneer directly from the retailer. Most edible products are normally contaminated with microbes (or microorganisms). They are so small that we need a microscope to see them. Microbes include bacteria, yeast, mould, algae, and protozoan. However, the organisms that normally contaminate and spoil foods are the bacterium with yeast and moulds of secondary importance. Under normal conditions, microbes feed on the food in which they live and reproduce and cause a variety of changes in the food, most of which result in a loss of the food’s quality. Hence, there’s an acceptable standard limit of microbes prescribed for each food item. Given here are acceptable and non-acceptable limits of total plate count (TPC), coliform, and yeast and mould for paneer. i) Total plate count (TPC, colony-forming unit [cfu]/gm)
m: 300,000 per gram, M: 500,000 per gram ii) Coliform (cfu/gram)
m: 50 per gram, M: 90 per gram iii) Yeast and mould (cfu/gram)
m: 150 per gram, M: 250 per gram Here ‘m’ represents an acceptable level; values that are only marginally above it are acceptable. The ‘M’ here shows a microbiological criterion that separates ‘marginally acceptable quality’ from ‘unsatisfactory/ potentially hazardous quality’. Values above M are unacceptable in terms of the sampling plan and detection of one or more samples exceeding this level will be cause for rejection of the lot.