The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a draft regulation for processing aids aimed at streamlining of the processes involved in food processing manufacturing like solvents for extraction, bleaching and washing agents, enzymes, etc.

Called Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2019, the objective of the draft is to help the FBOs (food business operators) to be able to identify the favourable processing aids.

It added that the processing aids listed in the regulations were recognised as suitable for use in foods in conformance with the provisions of these regulations and have been assigned an acceptable daily intake (ADI) or determined (wherever applicable), on the basis of other criteria, to be safe and the use of processing aids in conformance with these regulations has to be technologically justified.

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs, said, “The ADI and the residual levels of the processing aids have to be taken into consideration by all the FBOs to be compliant with the draft. The notification will facilitate general standards that will be followed pan-India resulting in uniformity of quality. This will thus result in the processing of food products in a prescribed manner and will suppress the fraudulent ways practiced before.”

Processing aid means any substance or material, not including apparatus or utensils, and not consumed as a food ingredient by itself, intentionally used in the processing of raw materials, foods or its ingredients, to fulfill a certain technological purpose during treatment or processing and which may result in the non-intentional but unavoidable presence of residues or derivatives in the final product (as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006).

The draft said that the processing aids used in the processing should be of food-grade quality.

“This can be demonstrated by conforming to the applicable specifications of identity and purity recommended under these Regulations, and in case such standards are not specified, the purity criteria accepted by international bodies such as Codex Alimentarius may be adhered to,” it added.

Bhadri said the reason behind introducing this notification was to not only enlighten the FBOs on the favourable processing aids to be used in the manufacturing activities, but also to be of great assistance to them.

“There are about 13 processing aid categories that can be utilised by the FBOs for the respective food products. Solvents for extraction, bleaching and washing agents, enzyme immobilisation agents are some of the categories mentioned in the list,” he added.

Processing aids categories
Antifoaming agents: Substances that reduce and hinder the formation of foam in processing of liquid food products.
Catalyst: Substances that increase the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
Clarifying agents and filtration agents: Substances that are used to remove suspended solids from liquids by inducing flocculation and those substances which aid in the process of filtration.
Lubricants, release and antistick agents: Substances which help to reduce friction between food contact surfaces and substances that provide critical barrier between molding surface and the substrate facilitating separation of cured part from the mold.

Microbial control agents, microbial nutrients and microbial nutrient adjuncts
• Microbial control agents: Substances that can be used to inactivate spoilage organisms in the processing of foods
• Microbial nutrients and microbial nutrient adjuncts: Substances that can be used to enhance the growth of the microbial culture intended to be used in food processing

Solvent for extraction and processing: Processing aids that help in the separation of a particular substance from a mixture by dissolving that substance in a solvent that will dissolve it, but which will not dissolve any other substance in the mixture.
Bleaching, washing, peeling and denuding agents: Substances that can be used in making food products white or colorless and substances that aid in surface treatment (washing, denuding and peeling) of food specified in these regulations.
Flocculating agents and enzyme immobilisation agents and supports: Substances that promote flocculation by causing colloids and other suspended particles in liquids to aggregate and forming a floc. Flocculants are used to improve the sedimentation or filterability of small particles.

Contact freezing and cooling agents: Substances that can cause rapid freezing on contact with food.
Desiccating agents: Substances that extract water and prevent the formation of lumps during manufacturing of food products. They are either soluble or insoluble substances that adsorb water due to their chemical properties.
Enzymes: These are macromolecular biological catalysts which accelerate chemical reactions in the treatment or processing of raw materials, foods, or ingredients. The enzymes may be used as a processing aid to perform any technological purpose if the enzyme is derived from the corresponding source specified in the table.

Generally-permitted processing aids: This category includes processing aids which have different technological functions. These shall be used as per the conditions specified in the corresponding table under these regulations.
Processing aids for beer and malt beverages, aromatised alcoholic beverages and wines: This category includes processing aids which may be used in the course of manufacture of beer, malt beverages, aromatised alcoholic beverages and wines. These shall be used as per the conditions specified in the corresponding table under these regulations.