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Accreditation still awaits FSSAI labs

Five of twelve labs lack accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laborataries

Arindam Majumder  |  Kolkata 

Research lab image via Shutterstock.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) finds itself in a spot in the Maggi controversy following Nestlé’s claim that FSSAI’s tests were carried in laboratories without accreditation. Five out of FSSAI’s 12 ‘recognised labs’ lack accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

A senior official with the Food Research and Standardisation Laboratory, Ghaziabad said the lab had initiated the process to get NABL accreditation way back in 2003. However, it is yet to get accreditation “due to reasons I can’t disclose”, the official added.

“Being a referral lab, we don’t need accreditation from the NABL,” said an official of the Central Food Laboratory in Kolkata, which tested Maggi noodles for lead content. However, according to FSSAI’s guidelines, all labs seeking recognition from it should be accredited by the NABL. A K Adhikari, director of Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata, refused to comment on the issue.

Experts say this might lead to legal complications if a Maggi-like case happens in future. “When FSSAI is asking companies to get their products certified from a laboratory that is accredited by the NABL, it should do that in the case of its own labs, too. You can’t have double standards,” said Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs.

Balwinder Bajwa, CEO of Edward Food Research & Analysis Centre, where Nestle tested its products, says: “NABL has on board professional and respected people. It is mandatory for labs in the country to have NABL accreditation. Then there are approvals like BIS, FSSAI, AG MARK. Even for that, the primary requirement is that you should have an NABL certification.”

Nestle India’s counsel Iqbal Chagla had argued in the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that the tests were conducted at non-accredited laboratories. This point also finds mention in Nestlé’s rejoinder to FSSAI’s affidavit filed after the first hearing on June 12.

First Published: Thu, July 16 2015. 00:22 IST