FSSAI deputy director’s insights about regulations

At the 5th Annual Packaging Quality and Innovations Summit India 2023, Krishna Methekar, deputy director (west region), FSSAI, spoke about the domestic packaging norms and regulations

23 Jan 2023 | By Abhay Avadhani

Krishna Methekar gives insights about the packaging regulations for materials used for direct and indirect food contact applications.

Methekar, in his presentation, spoke about the Food Safety and Standards Packaging regulations, 2018. The FSS act ensures that the packaging and the used materials do not mislead the consumers. He said that the FSS Packaging Act has been divided into two different categories - Packaging Regulations, 2018 and Labelling and Display Regulations, 2018. 

Methekar described the materials that can be used for food packaging such as; paper, glass, metal, plastic and multi-layer packaging material. According to the regulations, there are definitions for a migration limit of a packaging material. These include, migration limit, which is defined as the maximum permitted amount of non-volatile substances released from a material to food. And the specific migration limit which is the maximum permitted amount of a given substance released from a material to food. 

The FSS regulations define primary food packaging as materials directly in contact with the food products. The secondary packaging is defined as materials which enclose the primary food packaging and does not come in direct contact with food products. 

Next, Methekar spoke about the food grade requirements. He said, “While proposing a food grade requirement, FSSAI imposes certain adherence along with certain relaxations. The adherence includes that direct contact materials should be of food grade quality and food grade requirement is only applicable to primary packaging. Every material coming in contact with food should be food grade.” 

Adding to the requirements, he said that the packaging materials should be suitable for the type of the product, the conditions provided for storage and movement in the chain. “The package should also withstand mechanical, chemical or thermal stresses encountered during transportation. In case of flexible or semi-rigid containers, an overwrap packaging may be necessary,” he added. 

The requirement also states that the inks to be used should adhere to the IS: 15495 standards and the printed surface should not directly come in contact with the food. Methekar said, “Every FBO shall obtain the certificate of conformity issued by NABL accredited laboratory against these regulations for the packaging material which comes in direct contact with food or layers that are likely to come in contact with food to be used.”

Depending on the type of packaging material used, the regulations prescribes adherence to certain Indian Standards specifications listed under respective schedules known as Schedule-I, Schedule-II and Schedule-III. The Schedule-I consists of paper and board material; Schedule-II consists of metal and alloys and Schedule-III consists of plastic materials.

Next, Methekar listed down important requirements for plastic materials that intend to come in contact with food products. He said, “All packaging materials of plastic origin pass the prescribed overall migration limit of 60 mg/kg or 10 mg/dm 2 when tested as per IS 9845 with no visible colour migration. Pigments or colourants being used in plastics, and in contact with food products and drinking water shall confirm to IS 9833. All pigments or colourants as specified in Indian Standard IS 9833 may be allowed in plastic containers of five litre and above made of PC and PET used for packaging of mineral water and packaged drinking water. 

Finally, he said that “in alignment with the government’s call for action to eliminate single-use plastic in coming years and to encourage development of environment friendly substitutes, FSSAI has restricted the use of single-use plastic vide regulations. According to the specific requirements of packaging regulations, products made of recycled plastics including carry bags shall not be used for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food.”

The 5th Annual Packaging Quality and Innovations India Summit 2023 had sessions by packaging leaders from the industry. The two day conference was hosted on 18-19 January at the Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport.

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The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

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