FSSAI ‘s new packaging regulations would raise the bar for food safety

Plastic ban : FBOs switch over to alternatives

Printing ink standards for food packaging

In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.

In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. FSSAI is now revamping its standard on packaging and labelling, and is laying emphasis on packaging safety by bringing a specific regulation focussed on food safety aspects of the packaging material.
The standard prescribes that any material used for packaging, preparation, storing, wrapping, transportation and sale or service of food shall be of food grade quality (“Food grade” refers to materials made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended use and shall not endanger human health and bring change in the composition of food or organoleptic characteristics).
FSSAI has always promoted the principle of self-discipline in the industry, which eventually helps the brand owners to apply best practices available globally and produce safe products for the consumer.
Packaging regulation prescribed by FSSAI is a more stringent version of the current regulation and now encompasses more elements such as paper, metal, and packaging inks. FSSAI now prescribes that printing inks for use on food packages shall conform to IS 15495. The standard is being developed by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and will be mandatory post-FSSAI notification of the regulation.
Packaging supply chain needs to understand the standard in order to ensure the adherence to the prescribed standard.
Packaging Inks conformance to IS 15495
The Indian Standard IS 15495:2004 ‘Printing Ink for food packaging – Code of Practice’ prescribes guidelines for printing inks for use in food packages. The standard differentiates between four categories of printing inks and gives guidance on the formulation of the respective inks:
Printing inks on external (secondary/tertiary) food packaging: They can be formulated freely, but must not contain substances from the exclusion list and must not contain toxic substances. In the case, that a functional barrier does not exist, bleeding dyes and colouring agents need to be avoided.
Printing inks on immediate food wrappings: Those must be applied to the outside of the food wrapper, comply with the exclusion list and must not contain toxic substances. Inks are to be printed in such a manner as to avoid set-off. The final intended articles need to be manufactured in a manner that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger human health, cause a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food. In the case, that a functional barrier does not exist, bleeding dyes and colouring agents need to be avoided.
Printing inks for direct food contact: They must be formulated only with food additives under the appropriate regulation of the Government of India. The final intended articles need to be manufactured in a manner that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger human health, cause a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food. In the case, that a functional barrier does not exist, bleeding dyes and colouring agents need to be avoided.
Printing inks for disposables (e.g., paper plates, drinking straws or table napkins):Those inks must not contain substances from the exclusion list or those, which are otherwise known to be toxic. Moreover, they shall be formulated to avoid bleeding onto the food.
Requirements across Supply Chain Stakeholders
Ink Manufacturer
Ink manufacturers are responsible to formulate packaging inks by using only raw materials other than those known to be toxic, carcinogenic, sensitising or mutagenic, primarily governed by the exclusion list as per Annex A.
Ink manufacturers are expected to take all necessary precautions to meet the guidelines of the standard.
Ink manufacturers shall inform the converter and print buyers on the suitability of ink type towards the packages of food and the norms followed in formulations as per the requirement.
Printer / Converter
The printer and converter is finally responsible for manufacturing and storage of the food packages in such a manner by which all preventable transfer of material from the ink or coating to the food content is avoided, even if such transfer is unobjectionable on the grounds of health, odour and flavour.
The printer needs to ensure that the storage environment should be free from potential volatile contaminants, which could adversely affect the organoleptic characteristics of the food.
For immediate food wrappings and direct contact applications the final intended articles need to be manufactured in such a way, that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger the human health, cause a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food.
For immediate food wrappings and direct contact applications the printer needs to establish appropriate controls to avoid set-off in the printing process.
The converter needs to perform adequate analysis for the specific application in context of validating the bleeding capacity of dyes and pigments used in the inks.
Print Buyer/Brand Owner
Print buyers need to design the packaging with the restriction of printing in mind.
For immediate food wrappings and direct contact applications the final intended articles need to be manufactured in such a way, that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger the human health, cause a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food.
Relationship between the press speed and the curing/drying power needs to be fully understood to ensure that an adequate curing/drying takes place.
For immediate wrappers, the print buyer needs to recommend substrates with sufficiently low permeability to prevent migration.
It is very important to understand that packaging safety can only be implemented when packaging supply chain partners share information among each other and follow an integrated approach. Integrated packaging supply chain is the key to success of packaging safety implementation.

FSSAI bans plastic, newspaper packaging of food items

Of the 380 samples picked up from the unorganised sector, 51 samples were found to be non-conforming, taking overall rate to 13.4%, according to a survey report that FSSAI commissioned.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has framed new food packaging regulations that are in the process of being notified. The regulations will come into effect from July 1.
The country’s top food regulator has prohibited the use of recycled plastic or newspaper and magazine pages for packaging of food items, in a bid to crackdown on use of packaging material that poses a health risk.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has framed new food packaging regulations that are in the process of being notified. The regulations will come into effect from July 1.
“The packaging of food regulations have been sent for publishing and will raise the bar for food safety in India. Packaging is an integral part of the process and we have framed regulations to address the it,” said Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI.
Acknowledging the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety, the packaging regulations have been separated from the labelling ones . The new regulations replace the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. Besides general and specific requirement for packaging material, the regulations also prescribe overall and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials. There is a suggestive list of packing materials for different food product categories.
The main concern for the food regulator is the unorganised sector that found to be making use of hazardous packaging material in the surveys that were commissioned by the regulator.
Of the 380 samples picked up from the unorganised sector, 51 samples were found to be non-conforming, taking overall rate to 13.4%, according to a survey report that FSSAI commissioned. The food items in these instances were found contaminated even with heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, etc. “The surveys that we commissioned have shown that the packaging material used by the organized sector is largely safe but it’s the unorganised sector that is a cause for concern for us, especially loose packaging material,” he said.

‘Aluminium – coated boxes, plastic bags contaminate food

Avoid poisonous packaging

Consumers should refuse the food item if is packed in newspaper 
When it comes to eating street food, we often spend a lot of time worrying about what’s in the food, but not enough time worrying about what the food is in. Be they bun kebabs, samosas or any other downtown snack, odds are that the food you buy from street vendors will be wrapped in a newspaper. Now, here’s why this is bad news for you:
Wrapping fried food in newspapers is a very unhealthy practice and is very much prevalent in Kashmir and most parts of country and its consumption is injurious to health, even if the food has been cooked hygienically.
The reason is simple; the hot oil in, say, pakoras, facilitates the seeping of chemicals from ink and paper into the food. The newspaper ink contains many hazardous chemicals which can trigger serious health problems. Exposure to a class of organic chemicals called arylamines, such as benzidine, 2-Naphthylamine and 4-Aminobiphenyl, is associated with high risks of bladder and lung cancer.
Apart from these, printing inks also contain colorants, pigments, binders, additives and photo-initiators (used for speeding up the drying process of the ink), which have harmful effects. There are literally thousands of ink chemicals and a majority of them can be dangerous for consumers.
Newspapers are usually produced by a system called offset-web printing, which requires a certain consistency of the ink (it needs to be very thick) and a particular means of drying.

For the former, mineral oils (petroleum-based) and solvents such as methanol, benzene and toluene are used; and for the latter, heavy metal (Cobalt)-based drying agents are used. None of these should be used in food packaging, as they are also classified as harmful and can be perilous for consumers’ health.
Some offset printing ink formulations use vegetable oils rather than mineral oils; however, they have strong odours and should not be used in food packaging. Given the long-term risk from protracted exposure from an early age, the sale of such tainted foods to school children, a common sight in all our cities, must also be avoided and there is an urgent need to raise awareness on this issue.
Another similar problem which has been noticed is that fast food restaurants are packing burgers, soups and other hot meat and vegetable products in thin, transparent plastic bags, as take aways. These clear synthetic bags are typically made of polyethylene (polythene) and the principal potential ‘migrant’ agent is ethylene.
There are a number of potential additives to polythene, such as anti-static agents, ultra-violet protection and flame retardants. These additives can be very dangerous if they move into the take away food.
Other case is while using teabags, some people squeeze the teabag using the label fixed at the other end of the thread. As it can leak the ink from the label, it is recommended that the teabags should be squeezed by using the thread only.
In the recent time Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has issued an advisory wherein commissioners of Food Safety of all states were requested to initiate a systematic campaign for generating awareness among all stake holders to discourage the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing of food items.
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Drugs & Food Control organization is the nodal department for enforcement of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, rules/regulation 2011 with sufficient manpower, Deputy Commissioner Food Safety at Divisional level, Designated Officers at District level and Food Safety Officer at Block/Zone level.
Food Safety & Standards Act provides mechanism for collection and testing of food samples for any potential hazards at government level through Food Safety Officers.
Even the Purchaser/consumer can get the food sample tested at his own as provided under section 40 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, however in case the sample fails in testing government is supposed to refund the cost of sample and other expenditure to the purchaser while Designated Officers are supposed to initiate action against defaulters. In case the sample is reported unsafe in testing.
The offence is punishable with an imprisonment for a term which may be extended to six years and also with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees.
The department has started a campaign under Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 to control wrapping of fried foods in newspapers and banning the use of plastic bags for takeaways soups and other food items accordingly prosecution against many food business operators have been launched to tackle the issue.
Moreover, public awareness and support is the important means to discourage the use of newspapers in packaging of food items, consumers should refuse the food item if is packed /wrapped in newspaper.
Author is a Food Safety Officer Srinagar.
 

FSSAI asks States to check use of newspapers for food packaging

 

Concerned over food contamination from newspaper ink, food regulator FSSAI has asked food safety authorities of all states/UTs to take steps for restricting the use of newspapers for storage and packaging of food items. 
FSSAI also asked state authorities to create awareness among food business operators, especially unorganised ones, as well as consumers about harmful effects of using newspaper as food packaging material.
“Commissioners of Food Safety of all States/Union Territories are requested to initiate a systematic campaign for generating awareness amongst all stakeholders to discourage the use of newspaper for packing, serving and storing of food items,” Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said in a letter. 
The regulator said that the use of newspaper for wrapping, packing and serving food is common practice in India. “However, this is a food safety hazards.” 
“Food contaminated by newspaper ink raise serious health concerns since the ink contains multiple bioactive materials with known negative health effects. 
“Printing inks may also contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives and preservatives. Besides chemical contaminants, presence of pathogenic microorganisms in used newspapers also pose potential risk to human health,” it said. 
Stating that newspapers should not be used to wrap, cover and serve food or to absorb excess oil from fried food, FSSAI said that there is an urgent need to discourage the use of newspaper as food packaging material by creating awareness among businesses, especially unorganised food business operators and consumers on its harmful effects. 
“Suitable steps need to be taken to restrict and control the use of newspapers for packing of food material,” the regulator said in a letter.