FSSAI, the country’s top food regulator has restricted the use of recycled plastic, newspaper and magazine pages for packaging of food items. Loose packaging such as coloured and black carry bags, disposable containers with aluminium coating and sweet boxes have emerged as major contaminants of packaged food. This has prompted the food regulators to come up with food regulations and norms 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 food businesses have to comply with these regulations from July 1, 2019.
Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said, “The packaging of food regulations has 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 this.”
The packaging material used in the organised sector is majorly safe but the main concern for the food regulator is the unorganised sector that found to be making use of hazardous packaging material.
A survey report that FSSAI has commissioned, out of the 380 samples picked up from the unorganised sector, 51 samples were found to be non-conforming, taking overall rate to 13.4%. The food items in these instances were found contaminated even with heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, etc.
Pawan Agarwal said, “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.”
Packaging regulations have been kept separated from labelling regulations; it is done by acknowledging the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety. 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.