Food quality and hygiene analysis are critical for industries to understand the properties of food and produce food that is safe, nutritious and tasty. This also gives consumers confidence in the quality of the food they consume. For health-conscious individuals, food quality and the subsequent nutritional labelling testing helps them choose what they eat.
There are many reasons why industries conduct food quality and food hygiene testing. Apart from meeting government regulations, it is also critical for industries to keep up with the standards to ensure that the products manufactured are hygienic and well-preserved.
In Malaysia, food safety and food quality analysis is governed by the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985. These regulations govern and control food standards, hygiene, import, export, advertisements and accreditation of food testing laboratories. Ultimately, they aim to ensure that the food consumed is safe and the consumers are free from food-borne hazards.
Food quality analysis and food hygiene testing are commonly conducted in authorised laboratories. Among the parameters tested to determine the quality of food include nutritional facts and content of heavy metals, preservatives, colourings, antibiotics and banned substances. Food analysis also provides information on the different characteristics and nutritional label of the food including their composition, structure, sensory attributes and chemical properties.
Nutrition labelling has been made compulsory for a pre-determined list of food in Malaysia. Nutrition label provides information on the nutritional content and level of nutrients in pre-packaged food. It is displayed on the nutrition information panel on the packaging. Nutritional label testing is also conducted to determine the list of food that contains food or food additives that are derived from animals, food that may trigger hypersensitivity reactions and/or genetically modified food.
It is important for us to know what we are eating. The habit of reading the nutrition information panel should be instilled from young. The government has taken strict measures to ensure that food manufacturers and suppliers follow a set of rules when producing and exporting food. It is in our hands to practice the right eating habits in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle.