New regulations on printing ink for food packaging to be in place in July 2019

The new regulations on printing ink for food packaging material will be in place by July 2019. This was announced by Kumar Anil, advisor, standards, FSSAI, at the International Packaging Conclave, held in the sidelines of PackPlus 2018 on 28 July at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Anil added that Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is working on the regulations, and it would take another year-and-a-half for the process to be complete.


Ashish Pradhan of Siegwerk India (left) and others at the International Packaging Conclave

Speaking at the Conclave, Anil said a mandatory six-month period is given after publishing and before regulation comes into force. The regulations can only come into force from either 1 July or 1 January. “We would be able to publish the regulations by August this year, so the date of implementation effective would be 1 July 2019,” he said.

FSSAI is in process of drafting a regulation which will bring printing inks for food under the scope of the regulatory framework for food packaging. They were not regulated till now.

The regulation will refer to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) standards for printing inks for food packaging, where there is a list of chemicals which should not be used in printing inks. This new regulation will be beneficial for many, from brand owners to printers to consumers, and even from the regulatory point of view.

Meanwhile, BIS has recommended a ban on the use of toluene in inks used in food packaging.

In an internal meeting on 25 July, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has decided to restrict use of toluene, titanium acetylacetonate and phthalates in printing of packaging materials used for food products. This is informed by Partha Pratim Sanyal, independent consultant and convener at BIS panel on packaging inks during the conclave.

Ashish Pradhan, chief executive officer, Siegwerk India, said, “It is a big step forward by the regulatory body and will certainly push the industry to move towards healthy and safe packaging.”

In India, 90% of flexible market manufacturers use toluene. So, a ban on the use of toluene in the new draft will affect the business of many and might take a lot of time to get implemented.

“Globally, toluene has earned disrepute for its bad toxicology nature and is classified CMR category 2 (suspected of damaging the unborn child). The residual toluene in packaging impacts the organoleptic properties of the product leading to food quality and safety issues,” Pradhan added. “All major industry players already have toluene-free inks, hence solutions are available, and there is no reason to describe this as a challenge for the industry. It may take anywhere between six months to a year to implement this regulation.”

According to Pradhan, the unfavourable toxicology properties of toluene is the reason why global brand owners like General Mills, Nestle, Ferrero, Perfetti and Wrigley’s have already joined this movement of going toluene-free by either restricting or even completely banning the usage of toluene in ink formulations intended for food packaging material of their products. Even various countries have banned toluene, including China, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

“Siegwerk India is the first and only printing ink manufacturing company in India to manufacture Swiss- and Nestle-compliant toluene-free inks in a completely toluene-free environment,” Pradhan said. “Siegwerk’s Bhiwandi site is now toluene-free and does not use toluene in its manufacturing facility.”

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