Food product packaging to undergo more safety tests

  • Himani Chandna and Timsy Jaipuria, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 26, 2016 12:40 IST
A retail store in Mumbai. The new norms will apply to food products sold by Indian as well as multinational companies. (HT File Photo)

The packet of your dear noodle and the bottle of soft drink may soon go through another layer of safety checks.

Apart from the testing done by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the Indian food safety regulator is set to test the packaging standards of foodmakers such as Pepsi, Dabur and Nestle. The idea is to ensure that the packets, bottles, cans or wrappers do not release toxins into the food under different temperatures and conditions.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is planning to have it’s own set of packaging standards in addition to the present one, which it has adopted from BIS. At present, FSSAI does not test packaging.

“We don’t know how much ground-level testing is actually being done on food packets, so primarily, we need to do that before finalising our own set of guidelines,” said Pawan Agarwal, CEO of FSSAI told HT. The regulator is also consulting a panel of scientists from Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Packaging.

The new standards may increase the frequency of checks and make companies more accountable.

“Today, the food packet has no label to tell us that what material and grade it is using. We want manufacturers to make the packaging process more transparent,” Agarwal said. “Migration of toxins into food due to bad packaging is a serious concern.”

Agarwal wants the regulator to have a dedicated approach towards putting standards for safe packaging in place.

“We will also ask the states to follow the norms. Anyone licensed under us will be regulated through checks. It would include both domestic and multinational food giants,” said Agarwal, admitting that having separate packaging norms is a late realisation for the authority.

The FSSAI, which is perusing norms followed in Europe, the US and other developed nations, wants the new norms to match global standards.

Agarwal said the new norms will be “backed with strong scientific research with a dedicated team working only on this”.

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