India raises alarm against use of newspaper for packaging food, says it’s a health hazard


In the wake of a recent investigation by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the regulatory body has issued an advisory against the use of newspaper for wrapping food, a common practice in the country.

Popular Indian food “chaat” served in newspaper cone. Image credit: Wikimedia commons

The authority said that people are being slowly poisoned when printed paper is used for wrapping or as an absorbent (primarily to remove excess oil or moisture) by small hotels, street vendors and even at homes. Even if the food has been cooked hygienically, once wrapped in newspaper could become unhealthy and injurious to health.

According to the advisory, “In addition to bioactive materials that could react with food, printing inks may also contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives. Besides chemical contaminants, presence of pathogenic microorganisms in used newspapers also poses potential risk to human health”.

“There is an urgent need to discourage the use of newspaper as food packaging material by creating awareness among businesses, especially, unorganized food business operators and consumers, on its harmful effects,” the FSSAI advisory added.

The FSSAI has stated that it is critical to discourage the use of newspaper as a food packaging material by businesses, especially unorganized food business operators. Therefore, the agenda is to create awareness among the general public and specifically in the concerned food business sector about the harmful effects.

“Even paper/cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like phthalate which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity. Older people, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications if they are exposed to food packed in such material,” warned FSSAI in a press statement.

The regulator has instructed the commissioners of food safety across the country to initiate awareness campaigns to this effect.

Sources: The Hindu, Times of India