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New food packaging regulations are into force in India

Four additional compliance responsibilities for Food businesses under the new packing rules 

New Indian (FSSAI) packing regulations for food safety

Food packing forms an integral part of food product and businesses reinvent this part of product very often to align with the consumer trends. Although, there are few clauses in the consolidated regulations that cover the safety aspects of packaging, the Indian food regulator has recently formalized separate rules exclusively for the materials used in the packing of food. That brings us to understand the new set of compliance requirements for a food business. 

What is food grade packaging?

Food grade is referred to materials that are friendly to food production, processing and storing. Non-food grade supplies could transfer its inherent properties (like micro-plastic, pigments and ink etc.,) to food and may result in both long-term and short-term health concerns. Hence, advanced nations have introduced stringent rules to control the migration of harmful chemicals into the food and ensure the safety of consumer

Which businesses are covered under these regulations?

In a country where the food businesses are largely unorganized, the regulator role in enforcement is becoming negligible as their energies are being drained in setting up standards in the country. Further, there are various types of food businesses in the country and as per the FSS Act only farmers and consumers are exempted from governance. Hence, even in these regulations as per point 2 it covers most of the activities like packing, wrapping, storing and even transportation in the food ecosystem

Reference - Any material which comes in direct contact with food or likely to come in contact with food used for packaging, preparation, storing, wrapping, transportation and sale or service of food shall be of food grade quality

Why regulations are important now?

FSSAI with its highly methodical approach has implemented an undisputed market study and has conferred that food packaging issues are very negligible in organized sector, however has expressed safety concerns in the remaining part of the pie i.e. unorganized sector. Check the details in the press note issued by FSSAI. This study has become the genesis for drafting the new packing regulations. In contrary, prior to FSSAI study a global research firm has published presence of micro plastic in the bottled water across 11 countries including India. Interestingly, the market size of bottled drinking water in India is 7000 crores and imagine the cumulative market size of packing and food manufacturers, its immense 

What are the requirements to comply?

Requirement 1: Every food business shall sue only food grade packing material to serve, sell and pack food

From the same clause given above I.e. 2, it is pertinent that consumers should be provided food in food grade packing materials only. Except for the food serving industry, it is clear from reliable FSSAI study that majority of the food manufacturer’s use packaging of food grade quality. 

Is newspaper a food grade material?  - Say no to newspaper wrapping in food service outlets

Usage of newspapers for wrapping of food is rampant in the country and there are studies that link harmful diseases with such practices and even FSSAI has validated the same and issued a press note. Hence, the Indian regulator has finally issued a formal ban on usage of newspaper in any stage of food activity. However, experts feel that lack of deterrence and control measures would perpetuate in future

Requirement 2: Need to obtain certificate of conformity for packing materials used by food business 

As per Point 14 of general requirements, all FBOs should perform a migration on packing material that come in direct contact with food and from a NABL lab i.e. certificate of conformity. Every food business operator shall obtain the certificate of conformity issued by NABL accredited laboratory against these regulations for the packaging material which comes in direct contact with food or layers likely to come in contact with food to be used
Earlier most of the established brands used to enforce this rule on the packing material supplier, this has come as a surprise to the medium & small scale manufactures including restaurant and cafe’ owners. 

Requirement 3: Standards to adhere by the packing material 

Although, the authority has prescribed standards for all types (likeof packing materials we are providing details of the Plastic materials as this is most prevalent type. As per the requirement, the plastic material that comes in direct contact with food shall meet any of the requirements mentioned in the Schedule III. Standards for compliance include IS 10146, IS 10142, IS 10151, IS 10910, IS 11434 etc., (IS refers to the Indian Standards and it is a separate body that provide standards for various consumer products)

Requirement 4: Packing materials mapped to product types 

The authority standard setting team has put a stupendous task of mapping suggestive packing materials with the product types which was first of its kind. Although, there is a caveat emptor that is only indicative and doesn’t refrain FBOs from trying anything new that comply the standards. Check Schedule 5 talks about it

That brings us to the conclusion; food packing safety is certainly a critical factor in retaining the quality parameters of the food packed besides safety. When the food industry is radically innovating packaging which has inherent functional uses, it is an irony that the food regulator is crafting standards to regulate them. As the draft FSS Act suggests, the authority would be planning to bring packaging manufacturers under its ambit. Besides state authorities banning plastic, pressure is mounting from the environmental authorities on food manufacturers regarding waste generation, collection and recycling. In this context it would be interesting to watch the trends in complying with the new food packing regulations

Check the original notification here

(All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site)

Issue 33


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