Microbiological facts, milk fats, protein... in that order
Eight brands tested
As an ingredient, paneer lends itself to a wide array of dishes – from soups, salads, and starters, to snacks, main course, and desserts. It combines well with most vegetables and even with rice. Packed with protein, it is a nutritious alternative to non-vegetarian food. And it is available almost everywhere, in branded packets or in loose form. Precisely this level of accessibility and popularity make it important that one understands the safety and hygiene aspects – for one, know that paneer spoils bacteriologically within one or two days at room temperature (in India, it can be 40 degrees Celsius). Is there a way to know which paneer is better and safer? Where does your favourite paneer stand? Does it have the requisite milk fat, protein, calcium, and energy value? Does it have just the right balance of moisture and cholesterol? Most importantly, is there any deterioration due to high microbiological count? These may be questions that but rarely cross your mind and precisely because of this, this report may be an eye-opener.
A Consumer Voice Report
For the tests, we purchased eight regular-selling/ popular brands of packaged paneer and one loosely sold paneer from a local vendor who also happened to be a major wholesaler and retailer catering to various parts of Delhi. We assessed the paneer on key quality parameters specified in National Standards IS: 10484:1983 (specifications for paneer) and IS: 15346 (specifications for methods of sensory evaluation of paneer), as well as FSS Regulations, 2011. We also included a few parameters
from consumers’ point of view. The testing was conducted at an NABL-accredited laboratory.
Here, we are beginning the report with results of microbiological tests as the results of these tests nullify all other results (physical, chemical, sensory). Even if the paneer performs fine in various other tests, failing the microbiological test means that it is ‘not suitable for consumption in raw form’.