Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a directive expressing concerns about the health hazards associated with using newspapers for storing, serving, wrapping or packaging food items.
1) Food that comes into contact with newspaper ink can be dangerous due to the presence of harmful substances known to have adverse health effects. Printing inks contain dyes, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives which may be cancer-causing agents and can contaminate food leading to health problems when consumed.
2) Newspaper inks, especially those made from petroleum-based ink with a high content of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are considered hazardous.
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3) Chemicals such as heavy metals like lead and cadmium, solvents, and petroleum-based compounds found in newspaper ink can leach into the food and when consumed over time, can cause serious health issues.
4) Additionally, newspapers are exposed to various environmental conditions during distribution, making them susceptible to bacterial or viral contamination, which can lead to foodborne illnesses. Newspapers can also harbour bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, which can contaminate food and increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.
5) Some individuals might be allergic to components in newspaper ink, leading to allergic reactions when they consume food that has come into contact with the ink.
6) Moreover, the composition of newspaper ink varies from one publication to another, making it challenging to determine the exact chemicals present and raising concerns about potential health risks.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):
To address these issues, FSSAI is working closely with state food authorities to enforce regulations prohibiting the use of newspapers for storing, serving and wrapping or packaging food items. It has also, asked food vendors and consumers to immediately stop using newspapers for the same. Instead, it recommends the usage of approved food packaging materials such as food-grade containers to ensure consumer safety.
The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations, 2018, had strictly asked to discontinue the use of newspapers or similar materials for storing, serving and wrapping or packing food. It also, mentioned that the newspapers should not be used to absorb excess oil from fried food.