Sagar Singh, joint-director, chemical department, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), talks to the WhatPackaging? team about the IS 15495 toluene-free inks standard and says that the implementation will increase the export worthiness of inks and packaging material
Abhay Avadhani (AA): As a joint-director, chemical department of BIS, can you give us a background on how the IS 15495 standard came into existence?
Sagar Singh (SS): IS 15495 was first published in 2004. This standard was formulated with a view to assist the manufacturers of printing inks to produce inks, which are intended for use on food packages and which do not contain any hazardous chemicals that may get transferred to the food packed.
AA: What is the significance of adding ‘toluene-free’ to this standard?
SS: The committee decided to revise this standard by incorporating prohibition of toluene under ‘solvents’ category, phthalates (di-n-butylphthalate, di-isononyl phthalate) under ‘plasticizers’ category and titanium acetylacetonate under ‘various compounds’ category in Annex-A of exclusion list on the basis of their hazards to health and environment.
The sum of concentration levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium (VI) shall not exceed 100 ppm for printing inks.
AA: What are the benefits of BIS regulations for inks?
SS: Compliance with packaging inks safety norms is a legal obligation, and the legal responsibility of safe packaging material lies with the food business operator. The food grade packaging materials should not: endanger human health, no change in product composition and no change in organoleptic.
Packaging should be designed with the restrictions of printing in mind. For example, printing should not occur in areas, which, by folding, come into contact with food. The printing ink manufacturers shall inform the converters and point buyers on suitability of ink type towards packages of food and the norms followed in formulation whenever there is such need. MSDS should also be declared by the Ink Manufacturers.
AA: The new standards were introduced by BIS almost three years ago in 2020, what has been the update since?
SS: Work is in progress to make our Indian standard IS 15495: 2020 at par with international norms by incorporating non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), mineral oil and cobalt carboxylates, benzophenone. xylene and methyl cyclohexane in flexible materials for food packaging and UV photoinitiators.
AA: How would this help the Indian ink industry?
SS: NIAS are chemicals that are present in a food contact material (FCM) but have not been added intentionally for a technical reason during the formulation. Many NIAS can migrate from the FCM into food, but it is very difficult to completely understand and control. NIAS have various sources and can be grouped into side products, breakdown products, and contaminants.
AA: Any other piece of information regarding the standard, it will help our readers and the industry:
SS: BIS has taken an initiative to enhance industry participation by launching a standardisation module to help the members or non-members to comment on the documents from all the sectional committees.
AA: Current status of IS 15495 printing inks for food packaging:
SS: The technical committee responsible for development of this standard has been further reviewing the standard. The considerations are in view of the overall impact of constituent chemicals of the ink formulation; their reported toxicological profile, hazardous to environment and health of human beings, and possible contamination of food products being packed in the printing packages.
AA: How do you see the implementation of this taking place among the ink manufacturers and the packaging industry?
SS: Implementation of IS 15495 in its true spirit will increase the export worthiness of inks and packaging material. Stringent implementation of norms is the key. BIS is coordinating with FSSAI to effectively implement the standard so as to improve export worthiness of India.
Mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH) are not a chemically well-defined substance, but a highly complex composition of various hydrocarbons. These MOH may be used intentionally during the production of food, or may unintentionally migrate into the food from packaging materials.
Benzophenone is used in personal care products such as lip balm and nail polish to protect the products from UV light. Derivatives of benzophenone, such as benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP3) are common ingredients in sunscreen. Benzophenone is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). These chemicals are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity.
Photoinitiators are compounds that produce radicals when exposed to UV light. These then react with monomers or oligomers to initiate polymer chain growth. They are essential ingredients of all UV-curable adhesives, inks and coatings.
Xylene is primarily used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, and leather industries. Along with other solvents, xylene is also widely used as a cleaning agent, a thinner for paint, and in varnishes.
Methylcyclohexane is a volatile organic compound classified as saturated hydrocarbon, it is a colourless liquid with a faint odour. Methylcyclohexane is used as a solvent.