India announces new rules for food packaging
In the official Indian State Gazette (The Gazette of India) of 24 December ' 18, the FSSAI (the Indian authority on Food Safety and standards) notified new packaging rules.
Given the importance of packaging in the food sector and their impact on food safety, the Food Authority has decided to divide the Food safety standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011 into two new regulations:
- the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) regulations, 2018 and
- the Food Safety and standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018.
In addition, there are plans to set up a separate scientific panel on food packaging.
With this new regulation, India wants to respond to a number of concerns about food safety and packaging that arose from two studies that FSSAI recently carried out by the Indian Packaging Institute (IIP) in Mumbai and the National Test House (NTH) in Kolkata.
These two studies have shown that packaging used in the organized sector is largely safe. The packaging material used in the non-organized/informal sector is more worrying.
The regulation first lists a number of general requirements. Here, for example, the ban on the use of newspapers and other materials for packaging food products is formulated and it is also required that inks used on food packaging comply with the corresponding Indian standard (IS) for this.
In addition, specific requirements per packaging material are also imposed on the primary food packaging. For packaging material from plastics, for instance, the regulation determines a global migration limit of 60mg/kg or 10mg/dm2 and imposes also specific migration limits on a number of heavy metals. Furthermore, India's new packaging regulations also prohibit the use of recycled plastics in products, including carrier bags, that are used for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.
Moreover, the packaging materials used for packing or storing foodstuffs must comply with the Indian standards (IS standards) referred to in annex I to III. Something that previously could have been applied on a voluntary basis. It concerns, in particular, annex I for paper and paperboard, annex II for metals and metal alloys and annex III for plastics. All the standards referred to are available at the BIS (Bureau of Indian standards www.bis.gov.in). Finally, a suggestive list of packaging materials to be used for different categories of food is also specified in annex IV of the Regulation.
Food companies have the time until 1 July 2019 to comply with the new regulations.