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

FSSAI’s new packaging regulations had been recently notified on 3rd January 2019. The new regulations replace all provisions w.r.t. packaging requirements prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. Recognizing the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety, the packaging regulations have been separated from the labelling regulations and a separate Scientific Panel for food packaging is planned.

Primary objective of packaging is to protect the food contents from microbiological, chemical, physical and atmospheric contamination and preserve the food and thereby protect consumer’s health. Good packaging also ensures that there is no change in sensory properties or composition of food when packed. Packaging is essential and critical for promoting food safety, extended shelf-life and thereby enhancing food security.

Besides, general and specific requirement with respect to packaging materials, the regulations also prescribe overall migration and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials. The regulations specify the suggestive list of packaging materials for different food product categories. As per these regulations, the packaging materials used for packing or storing the food products shall conform to the Indian Standards provided in the schedules.

These regulations address all health concerns that were raised during the studies conducted by the Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Mumbai and the National Test House (NTH), Kolkata. As per the FSSAI, the studies conducted by these institutes/ bodies, raised several red flags in terms of migration of chemical contamination and heavy metals from packaging materials into food products and chemical contamination from loose packaging material. Keeping in mind these issues, the Regulations prohibit the use of recycled plastics including carry bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.

Further, taking cognizance of the carcinogenic effect of inks and dyes, these Regulations prohibit the use of newspaper and such other materials, commonly used for packing/ wrapping food articles and prescribe adherence to the applicable Indian standard for printing inks for use on food packages.

CEO, FSSAI, Pawan Agarwal pointed that ‘the new packaging regulations would raise the bar of food safety in India to the next level. He pointed out that there would be difficulties in implementation of these regulations particularly as far as they relate to the loose packaging materials and to the unorganised sector’. Thus, sufficient lead time has been given before the regulations come into force. The food businesses shall have to comply with these regulations by 1st July, 2019. He added that stakeholder’s consultation and mass awareness building amongst consumers and food businesses would precede implementation of the new packaging regulations.

Source: FSSAI Press Release

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