You might have surely consumed the food that was wrapped in newspapers at least once. In fact, many a times when we eat out on the roadside kiosks, the fried food are invariably packed in a newspaper and handed over to us. We consume it without being aware of the consequences of the same. But according to the National Food Authority, the food wrapped in the newspaper is harmful to health. According to the sources, a pathogenic microorganism in used in newspapers pose risk to health. What are the actual consequences of the eating food that is wrapped in a newspaper? read the complete report here.

According to the sources from FSSAI (Food, Safety and Standard Authority of India) Wrapping food items in the newspaper is bad for your health as its ink has multiple bioactive materials with known negative health effects. “Wrapping food in newspapers is an unhealthy practice and the consumption of such food is injurious to health, even if the food has been cooked hygienically,” the Food, Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) said in an advisory. “Printing inks may also contain harmful colors, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives. Besides chemical contaminants, the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in used newspapers also poses a potential risk to human health,” the advisory added.

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The report in this regards was first published in the national media NDTV claimed the advisory pointed out that even paper/cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like phthalate which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity. “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 material,” the advisory warned.

The FSSAI had issued the warnings to food outlets to stop using newspapers for the wrapping of food items but despite that, many unauthorized kiosks do not follow the guidelines set by the FSSAI and continue to put the lives of their customers into the danger by serving the food wrapped in the newspaper. According to the sources, the advisory comes after Health Minister JP Nadda’s directions to the food regulatory authority against the practice of wrapping and covering food items in newspapers in India. Speaking in this regard JP Nadda had said: “It has been observed that vendors have been using newspapers in packing and serving food, which is harmful. I urge the public to dissuade the vendors from doing so.” According to the advisory, the Commissioners of Food Safety of all States/Union Territories will initiate systematic campaigns for generating awareness among all the stakeholders to discourage the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing food items.

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According to another report published in The Logical Indian The Pune Cantonment Board recently issued a public notice advising people to avoid eating food (especially fried) packed in newspapers from roadside vendors. Consuming food wrapped in newspapers and packing material can pose grievous health concerns, therefore it is essential you say NO to the fried items wrapped in newspapers. According to the reports, there are about 10 million street vendors in India, most of whom belong to the unorganized sector. Regulating such a massive number of vendors is a challenging task; therefore it is vital that we regulate our individual food habits.

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It is the known fact that the ink used in newspaper printing contains harmful chemicals such as dyes, alcohol, pigments, binders, preservatives and additives. When consumed in small quantities, these substances cause minor stomach upset. However, overdose can cause stomach poisoning and also lead to cancer-related health complications. Older people and children are at a greater risk as their immune system is weaker. Besides chemical contaminations, the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in used newspapers also possesses a risk to human life.

What are the reasons for the ill practices by the food outlets? 

First and foremost, the Indian lacks stringent food packaging laws. Although many Hotels and restaurants use aluminum foil to wrap their food sent out for delivery, but the same establishments might use newspapers as absorbents. Despite the strict implementation of the regulations, there are many unorganized sectors, kiosks on the roadside where it is difficult to enforce the law. 

According to the sources, in the western countries, there are regulations forbidding the use of toxic materials for the manufacture of printing ink used by the newspaper industry. Laws regarding the usage of ink on the labels of food packets are even stricter with the condition that no food should come in contact with the ink. But our country lacks such regulations. If you Google ‘regulations for printing ink used in newspapers in India’, corresponding information will not be generated, even though such regulations hold greater importance in our country. Vendors in the U.S. will never use newspapers to serve their food, but in India, it is a common practice. Due to lack of awareness, many households also use newspapers to absorb oil from fried food.

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The implementation of the regulations is much easier in the registered or reputed establishments but it is very difficult to enforce at the local level vendors. The roadside tea stall kiosks frying the Pakodas are invariably wrapping them in newspapers. This happens to lower down their costs and thus you get the food stuff at much cheaper rates compared to the established places. It is more important to create the civic awareness than actually going after the vendors/kiosk owners which will seldom change their habits.

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