plastic bottles
(Representational image) Recyclable plastic bottles in VietnamReuters/Nguyen Huy Kham

In a bid to check the usage of hazardous material in packaging that poses a health risk, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned the use of recycled plastic or newspaper and magazine pages for packaging of food items.

According to Hindustan Times, the country's top food regulator has worked on new food packaging regulations that are in the process of being notified which are scheduled to come into effect from July 1.

"The packaging of food regulations have been sent for publishing and will raise the bar for food safety in India. Packaging is an integral part of the process and we have framed regulations to address it," said FSSAI chief executive officer Pawan Agarwal.

The FSSAI has acknowledged the importance of packaging in the food sector and its impact on food safety and it is for that matter there has been separate regulations for packaging and labelling.

Once approved the new regulations will replace the existing Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. Apart from the general and specific requirement for packaging material, the regulations also give an overview of the overall and specific migration limits of contaminants for plastic packaging materials. Moreover, the regulation has also given a suggestive list of packing materials for different food product categories.

In the surveys conducted by the regulator in past, the main cause of the concern for the food regulator is the unorganized sector that found to be making use of hazardous packaging material. As per the surveys commissioned by FSSAI, out of the total 380 packaging samples taken from the unorganized sector, 51 samples were found to be non-conforming, taking overall rate to 13.4 per cent.

In the instances where the samples have not complied with the regulation, the samples were even contaminated unorganized sector that found to be making use of hazardous packaging material.

Aggarwal said "the surveys that we commissioned have shown that the packaging material used by the organized sector is largely safe but it's the unorganized sector that is a cause for concern for us, especially loose packaging material."