India tightens up its packaging regs, with aim of taking food safety ‘to the next level’
Packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags and use of newspaper to wrap food to be prohibited.
The Food Safety and Standards Association of India’s (FSSAI’s) new packaging regulations were released at the start of this month. The new regulations replace all provisions with respect to packaging requirements prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011). In recognition of the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety, the packaging regulations have now been separated from the labelling regulations, with a separate Scientific Panel for food packaging to be established in the future.
In addition to general and specific requirements, the regulations prescribe overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials, with suggestions for the correct packaging material to use depending on the food product categories.
The regulations have been devised as a result of a National Survey on Food Packaging Materials (FPMs) carried out by the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Mumbai and the National Test House (NTH), Kolkata. These saw 1,250 samples analysed, 870 from the organised section and 380 from the unorganised. While the results showed that packaging material used by the organised sector is largely safe, there are concerns, says the FSSAI, about the use of packaging material by the unorganised/informal sector, with serious concerns about the safety of loose packaging material. “Thus, these regulations prohibit packaging material made of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food. Further, taking cognisance of the carcinogenic effect of inks and dyes, these regulations also prohibits the use of newspaper and such other materials for packing or wrapping of food articles and includes respective Indian standard for printing inks for use on food packages.”
CEO, FSSAI, Pawan Agarwal said he believed the new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level. Given the practical constraints of implementing the new regulations – particularly with regard to loose packaging materials and the unorganised sector – they are not due to come into force until 1 July, 2019. Mr Agarwal added that stakeholder consultation and mass-awareness-building among consumers and food businesses would precede their implementation.