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research interests of their groups as well complex metallic alloys because of fun- structural, magnetic and other applica-
as those of their colleagues. There was a damental interest and the possibility of tions.
question-and-answer session. It is hoped that technological applications. A consensus
robust cooperation between US and Indian is slowly emerging as to what alloys can
scientists will emerge from this event. form glasses, the basic structural fea- N. K. Mukhopadhyay, Department of
It is obvious that the discovery of MGs tures, and the mechanics/mechanisms of Metallurgical Engineering, Institute of
in 1960, quasicrystals in 1984 and BMGs deformation in them. It is also becoming Technology, Banaras Hindu University,
in 1988 has undoubtedly attracted con- clear that research will continue in the Varanasi 221 005, India.
siderable research attention on these direction of BMG-based composites for e-mail: mukhopadhyay_nk@yahoo.co.in

MEETING REPORT

Quality improvement in food processing*


The scenario of the food industry in our S. P. Mukherjee (IAPQR) in his presi- roy. Agro-terrorism (terrorism directed
country has undergone a sea change during dential address gave a brief introduction against agriculture, livestock, or other
the last couple of decades. People have about IAPQR and also mentioned some food supplies with biological, chemical,
become enormously quality-conscious in of its activities. According to him, IAPQR physical or radiological weapons), impor-
matters related to food, rendering the in- established in 1972 with the primary tance of preventing food-borne diseases,
dustry fairly competitive. Indiscriminate objective of building-up the necessary potential contaminants in food, strategies
use of harmful ingredients, preservatives, human resource in quality personnel of for prevention and risk reduction, and
processing chemicals, etc. is seriously the Indian industry, has since its inception hazard analysis critical control points,
affecting the quality of food. On the been engaged in the pursuit, propagation were also covered in his lecture. Private
other hand, horizons of food science and and promotion of concepts, methods and and public cooperation is required to
technology have expanded. A good num- practices to enhance productivity in maintain and strengthen the food system,
ber of food-safety regulations are prevalent manufacturing and service organizations and core public health measures help en-
in the country. These include the Preven- through the practice of quality and reli- sure safer food, including assessing
tion of Food Adulteration Act (Ministry of ability. Training is an area of strength of threats, developing common sense and
Health), the Agriculture Produce (Grading the Association, Mukherjee added. It offers practical policies, Duttaroy concluded.
and Marketing) Act (Ministry of Rural through contact programmes and corre- In Technical Session I, J. Chakraborty
Development)-AGMARK, laws being spondence, an integrated two-year course (Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata)
operated by Bureau of Indian Standards, on quality management, affiliated to the spoke on ‘Modernization of Indian food
a number of mandatory quality control University of Burdwan. The Association safety and standards regulation’. The
orders under Essential Commodities Act also organises, from time to time, short-term Codex Alimentarlus, according to Chak-
such as FPO, MMPO, Meat Product Order programmes in quality-related areas and raborty, has relevance to international
and Vegetables Control Order. These also carries out consultancy assignments food trade. With respect to the ever-
multiple laws need to be harmonized. on implementation of ISO 9000 Series of increasing global market, in particular,
It is in this context that a national con- Standards (including Revision 2000) in the advantages of having universally uni-
ference was organized by the Indian several industries across the country. form food standards for the protection of
Association for Productivity, Quality and Asim K. Duttaroy (University of Oslo, consumers are extremely important. It is
Reliability (IAPQR), Kolkata. The con- Norway) delivered the keynote address not surprising therefore, that both the
ference provided a platform for focused on ‘The environmental health: Food and Agreement on the Application of Sanitary
discussions by acknowledged experts in security’. He discussed in great detail the and Phytosanitary measures and Agree-
the field from academia, industry, con- background of public and environmental ment on Technical Barriers to Trade en-
sumer fora and regulatory bodies, from health, definitions and importance of the courage the international harmonization
different parts of the country. food system and strategies to protect it. of food standards. As such, Codex standards
Core functions of public health, accord- have become the benchmark against
ing to him, include assessing public which national food measures and regu-
health, promoting sound policies and assur- lations are evaluated within the legal
*A report on the National Conference on ing effectiveness. He defined environ- parameters of the World Trade Organiza-
‘Quality Improvement in Food Processing:
mental health as programmes designed to tion (WTO) Agreements. The Prevention
Role of Science and Technology’, held from
18 to 20 January 2007, at Kolkata and organ-
protect the public from hazards which of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954
ized by the Indian Association for Producti- exist or could exist in the physical envi- has laid the basis for a constructive and
vity, Quality and Reliability in collaboration ronment. Environmental links to health responsible consumer protection, includ-
with Indian Science Congress Association and concerns like drinking water, food, land, ing assistance to trade in India, according
Department of Food Processing Industries and built environment, indoor air and emer- to Chakraborty. India is a signatory to
Horticulture, Govt of West Bengal. gencies were also elaborated by Dutta- WTO. Thus harmonization of PFA stan-

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 92, NO. 8, 25 APRIL 2007 1037


NEWS
dard with that of Codex is being followed stated that health-mixes were being de- turing process) helps prevent this problem
accordingly, Chakraborty added. He in- veloped in the laboratory to provide pro- through appropriate maintenance, clean-
formed the audience that ‘The Food tein with high biological value, for health ing and sanitizing. The purposes of quality
Safety and Standards Act 2006’ has al- promotion and disease prevention. These control are: (i) protection of nutritional
ready been approved and signed by the health-mixes when subjected to irradiation value of constituents, (ii) protection of
President of India on 23 August 2006. As treatment, did not suffer any significant customers from dangers of contaminated
a result, consumer safety will be ensured in change in their nutrient composition. food and ensure that they get the weight
a better manner through food safety Hence radiation processing technology and quality of food that they pay for, (iii)
management systems and setting stan- would help traders and other users as a prevent cheating by suppliers (e.g. stones
dards based on science and transparency, modern tool to preserve their precious in raw materials), damage to equipment
it will also meet the dynamic require- produce. and false accusition by middlemen, cus-
ments of the Indian food trade and indus- In Technical Session IV, Pratap Chakra- tomers or suppliers, and (iv) to ensure
try and international trade. borty (Jadavpur University) spoke on that food laws operating in a country are
In Technical Session III, K. Chandra- ‘Food safety and quality’. India is the complied with. Some standard guidelines
lekha (KSP Mahila University, Tirupati) world’s second largest producer of food must be followed according to ISO,
spoke on ‘Impact of radiation processing and has the potential to become number CODEX, etc. for maintaining the quality
on nutrient composition of selected one in the course of time with sustained of the product, Chakraborty concluded.
health mixes’. Food irradiation envisages efforts, according to Chakraborty. Re-
a concept of food processing and preser- garding food safety, he said that food
vation. Irradiation can be used to pas- processed under unsanitary conditions is Minakshi De, 35, Garpar Road, Kolkata
teurize food without causing changes in not considered safe by many importing 700 009, India.
its freshness and texture. She further countries. CGMP (current good manufac- e-mail: amitkde@satyam.net.in

MEETING REPORT

Alternatives to the use of animals in research, testing and education*


The words of Mahatma Gandhi that ‘the gress had three lecture and seven work- testing protocols conform to the three Rs.
greatness of a nation and its moral pro- shop sessions. Replacement of animal testing by alter-
gress can be judged by the way its animals The issue of alternatives to the use of native methods is the most radical of the
are treated’, set the stage for the First animals in research and testing is indeed methods proposed, although a differen-
Indian Congress on Alternatives to the not new, and in many ways continues to tiation is made between absolute and
use of Animals in Research, Testing and be contentious. The first protests for relative replacement. Refinement on the
Education. The Congress witnessed over animal protection began in England dur- other hand, is the subtle approach which
400 participants. T. Ramasami (Secre- ing mid-nineteenth century, in which advocates the reduction of incidence or
tary, Department of Science and Techno- activists opposed all forms of animal re- severity of distress experienced by labo-
logy) inaugurated the proceedings. The search. The protests gained momentum ratory animals. Reduction entails obtain-
inaugural session had presentations by P. during the seventies, and many believe ing precise information with animals
C. K. Nayar (Medical Council of India) that the work of Peter Singer entitled through the use of well-designed, well-
on alternatives to the use of animals in Animal Liberation in 1975, revived the conducted, reliable experiments that do
medical education and by Vasantha Mut- call for animal protection. A few of the not involve endless repetition of the
huswamy (Indian Council of Medical presentations are highlighted here. Alan same tests.
Research) on alternatives to the use of M. Goldberg (John Hopkins University, Thomas Hartung (European Centre for
animals in medical research. The Con- Baltimore) spoke on ‘The science of the Validation of Alternative Methods
alternatives’, which detailed the three Rs, (ECVAM), Ispra) presented some of the
*A report on the First Indian Congress on Alter- i.e. replacement, refinement and reduc- key initiatives in his presentation entitled
natives to the use of Animals in Research, tion of alternative and humane science. ‘Europe goes alternative, contributions to
Testing and Education, held between 29 and While exploring the societal expectations reduce animal testing’. ECVAM was
31 January 2007 at Sri Ramachandra Medical of animal use in science, Goldberg ad- created in 1993 following the European
College and Research Institute, Chennai, and dressed the importance of the three Rs. Directive 86/609/EEC in 1991, and the
jointly organized by the International Centre The Bologna Declaration of 1999 signed institution is a forerunner in furthering
for Alternatives in Research and Education,
by 29 European countries was a water- alternative approaches to animal testing.
Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai and the
International Institute for Biotechnology and
shed event for the issue of animal use The field of alternative is currently
Toxicology, co-sponsors included amongst and this declaration paved the way to the driven by demands made by two major
others, the Winsome Constance Kindness alternate animal testing protocol, viz. the sectors, viz. consmetics and chemicals.
Trust, The Medical Council of India and the three Rs. The concept, developed by While the 7th Amendment made by the
Indian Council of Medical Research. Russell and Burch advocates that, animal European Commission in 2003 foresees

1038 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 92, NO. 8, 25 APRIL 2007