Don’t use newspapers to pack food, says India’s food regulator

FSSAI said newspapers should not be used to wrap, cover and serve food or to absorb excess oil from fried food

Wrapping food in newspaper is a common practice in India. Be it breakfast or just the snacks, it’s time to end that habit.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s food regulator has issued an advisory saying that the use of newspapers for packing of food items poses a health hazard.

The advisory, sent to food safety commissioners of all states, stated that wrapping food in newspaper is an unhealthy practice and the consumption of such food is injurious to health, even the food has been cooked hygienically.

“Newspapers should not be used to wrap, cover and serve food or to absorb excess oil from fried food,” it said.

“There is an urgent need to discourage the use of newspaper as food packaging material by creating awareness among businesses, especially, unorganized food business operators and consumers, on its harmful effects,” the FSSAI advisory added.

The authority said Indians are being slowly poisoned due to newspaper being widely used as food packaging material by small hotels, vendors and also in homes in lieu of absorbent.

The food regulator said the printing ink, usually used in newspapers, may contain bioactive materials, harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, preservatives, chemical contaminants and even pathogenic microorganisms that may pose potential risk to human health.

“Newspapers and even paper or cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and harmful chemicals like phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity,” it stated.

It also said older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer—related health complications, if they are exposed to food packed in such.

The authority said suitable steps need to be taken to restrict and control the use of newspapers for packing of food material.