INDIA – The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a fervent appeal to consumers and food vendors nationwide, urging them to cease using newspapers for packing, serving, and storing food items.

Expressing deep concern over this widespread practice, G Kamala Vardhana Rao, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), FSSAI, aims to raise awareness about the severe health risks associated with it.

Rao emphasized that the ink used in newspapers contains bioactive materials with well-known negative health effects.

When in contact with food, these materials can contaminate it, potentially leading to adverse health consequences upon consumption. Furthermore, printing inks often contain chemicals, including lead and heavy metals, which can leach into the food over time, posing grave health hazards.

Adding to the concern, newspapers are exposed to various environmental conditions during distribution, making them vulnerable to contamination by bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens, which may transfer to the food and cause foodborne illnesses.

To address this issue, FSSAI has instituted the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations, 2018, which unequivocally prohibit the use of newspapers or similar materials for storing and wrapping food.

According to these regulations, newspapers should not be employed to wrap, cover, serve food, or absorb excess oil from fried items.

FSSAI is actively collaborating with State Food Authorities to rigorously enforce regulations that prohibit the use of newspapers for wrapping or packaging food items.

Rao underscored the paramount importance of food safety and called upon all food vendors to adopt responsible packaging practices that prioritize the well-being of their customers.

By discouraging the use of newspapers for food packaging and promoting safe alternatives, FSSAI reaffirms its commitment to safeguarding the nation’s food supply.

In alignment with FSSAI’s directive, Rao urged consumers, food vendors, and stakeholders throughout the country to immediately discontinue the use of newspapers as food packaging materials.

Instead, he recommended the adoption of approved food packaging materials and food-grade containers, ensuring the safety and health of consumers.

FSSAI cracks down on food adulteration

In other news, the FSSAI’s West Region Office in Mumbai has launched a series of enforcement drives targeting food adulteration.

A recent operation, prompted by information from Vashi Crime Branch Unit 1, revealed shocking findings at Gautam Agro India in Vashi, Mumbai.

The central team, during their inspection, uncovered large stocks of suspicious substances, including peanut and mustard flavors, containers of various flavoring agents, liquid flavors, and unknown chemicals used for adulterating edible vegetable oils.

Despite being licensed solely for the packing and selling of edible oils, the presence of these suspicious flavoring substances strongly indicated possible adulteration activities.

The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately 35 tonnes of adulterated groundnut oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil, and palm oil, valued at Rs. 82 lakh 45 thousand (Approx U.S$98,500) in the market.

The establishment was also found to be in serious violation of basic infrastructure and sanitary rules mandated by the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Notably, the business lacked a functional food laboratory, a mandatory requirement for vegetable oil packing operations. Moreover, the establishment was caught selling expired edible oils, further endangering public health.

Given the severe threat these adulterated products pose to consumers, the Central Licensing Authority promptly suspended the license of the said establishment.

FSSAI has issued an urgent appeal to citizens, advising caution when purchasing edible oil and urging them to avoid buying loose oil from the market.

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