Inks that guarantee safe packaging

The Indian Flexible Packaging and Folding Carton Manufacturers Association (IFCA) hosted a seminar on 22 October 2019 on the theme Packaging Strategies for the Future - as well as Plastic Waste Mangement - EPR. Jatin Takkar spoke about safe packaging inks during the conference.

04 Nov 2019 | By Aultrin Vijay

Takkar started of by saying product packaging is critical and should be given due importance. He said, "Food safety scandals have triggered an increasingly tight regulation across regions." One of the issues Takkar said was migration which has been overlooked several times. Therefore risks associated with ink and packaging has to be evaluated. He cited examples where a product was recalled due to consumer complaints on odour and taste

Takkar shared the key events and milestones in recent regulation development: In 2003 it was pesticides in cold drinks. In 2006 FSSA harmonised the food lw. FSSAI was formed in 2011. This was followed by lead in the noodles scandal in 2015 and contaminants like phthalates and heavy metal in cold drinks as well as inks in newspaper recognised as threat by FSSAI.

In 2017 there was an analysis of complaints to FSSAI.  One of the comments was: food packaging had a high contribution to complaints. In 2019, there have been two developments. One, FSSAI issued new regulations for food packaging and BIS will revise IS 15495 to include more contaminants.

Takkar shared highlights from the FSSAI regulations. These are: Every food business operator shall ensure that the packaging material used shall be in accordance with these regulations and wherever Indian standards are not available, then international standards may be complied with. In addition, any material which comes in direct contact with food or likely to come in contact with food used for packaging, preparation, storing, wrapping, transportation and sale or service of food shall be of food grade quality. "Food grade" means material made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended use which shall not endanger human health and change in the composition of the food or organoleptic characteristics. And finally, printed surface of packaging material shall not come into direct contact with food products.

FSSAI said printing inks for use on food packages shall conform to IS: 15495. Jatin Takkar said the regulation has set rules for external packaging and disposables as well as for immediate food wrappings are: no toxic substances; compliance to exclusion list; no bleeding of dyes and pigments and heavy metals compliance.

Jatin Takkar also mentioned that packaging safety needs an Integrated approach. The brand owner needs to align the stakeholders on the definition of food grade material and all other regulatory aspects. It is high time that industry needs to move from a document centric to system-centric approach. Documents need to have a validated approach. Risk assessments of the packaging materials is now gaining the attention from big brand owners.  Packaging supply chain needs to uplift the understanding and implementation of regulations following an integrated approach to avoid any packaging scandals in future.

Jatin Takkar concluded his talk by speaking about Siegwerk's commitment to migration optimised inks. He mentioned that Toluene free inks or mineral oil free inks are a misnomer for safe inks as substitution of one chemical cannot make the inks safe. In migration optimized inks, all chemicals are screened to avoid any chemical of proven CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, Repro-Toxic category) nature  as well as risk assessment of other chemicals is carried out to ensure that packaging inks are safe for the intended applications.

IS 15495 guidelines

Ink manufacturers are responsible to formulate packaging inks by using only raw materials other than those known to be toxic, carcinogenic, sensitizing or mutagenic, primarily

governed by the exclusion list as per Annex A. (Clause 6.2)

Ink manufacturers are expected to take all necessary precautions to meet the guidelines of the standard. (Clause 5.6)

For printers and converters immediate food wrappings and direct contact applications the final intended articles needs to be manufactured in such a way, that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger the human health, cause a deterioration in the

organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food. (Clause 4.3.5)

The printer / converter is finally responsible for manufacturing and storage of the food packages in such a manner by which all preventable transfer of material from the ink or coating to the food content is avoided, even if such transfer is unobjectionable on the grounds of health, odour and flavour. (Clause 6.3)

The printer needs to ensure that the storage environment should be free from potential volatile contaminants, which could adversely affect the organoleptic characteristics of the food. (Clause 6.2)

Print Buyer / Printer needs to design the packaging with restriction of printing in mind. (Clause 6.1)

Taint and odour tests should be conducted to ensure that a particular substrate is suitable for use. (Clause 6.1)