Stringent regulation for ink as per IS 15495: 2020

In the Printing Ink Standards for Food Packaging as per IS 15495: 2020, the Bureau of Indian Standards has revised the standard by incorporating prohibition of toluene under ‘solvents’ category, phthalates under ‘plasticiser’ category and titanium acetylacetonate under ‘various compounds’ category in Annex-A of the exclusion list on the basis of their hazards to health and the environment.

24 Mar 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

Sagar Singh

The revisions were made in June 2020.

Speaking on the first days of the virtual international conference on the advancements and challenges in the food packaging industry on 23 March, organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sagar Singh, member secretary, CHD, chemical department, Bureau of Indian Standards, highlighted the major points of the IS 15495: 2020.

Singh said the purpose of the standard is to raise the bar on packaging safety. “Now, compliance to packaging ink safety is a legal obligation. The legal responsibility of safe packaging material lies with the food business operator,” he said. 

According to the revised guidelines, the food-grade packaging material should not endanger human health. There should be no change in product composition, and no change in organoleptic properties. Singh said, “There should not be any toxic substrate in the external packaging. The packaging should comply with the exclusion list. There should not be bleeding of dyes and pigments. It should also follow the heavy metal compliance.”

The Indian Standard was first published in 2004. The standard was formulated with a view to assist the manufacturers of printing ink to produce ink which are intended for use on food packages, and which do not contain any hazardous chemicals that may get transferred to food packed, and help food packers and manufacturers of packages in selecting proper quality printing ink. The general guideline for exclusion of certain substrates from printing ink formulations intended for use on food packages have also been prescribed in this standard.

The committee responsible for the development of this standard reviewed the standard in view of the overall impact of constituent chemicals of the ink formulations considering their reported toxicological profiles hazardous to environment and the human health and possible contamination of food products while the food products are being packed in the printed packages.

 According to the guidelines, the sum of the concentration level of lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium (VI) shall not exceed 100 ppm for printing inks.

Singh added that according to the guideline, packages should be designed with restrictions of printing in mind. For example, printing should not occur in areas, which, by folding, come in contact with food. It is also important that the substrate itself should not cause taint and odour of the packaging product. 

Also, traces of impurities (including listed in Annex-A) coming from the raw material in printing are avoidable as these raw materials are produced under commercial industrial conditions.

Singh said the ink manufacturers should make every effort with the supply chain to ensure that the impurities are kept at the minimum level.

According to the guidelines, the printing ink manufacturers shall inform the converters and print buyers on suitability of ink type towards packages of food and norms followed in formulation whenever there is such a need.

Singh said the responsibility of the printer and the converter is to ensure that food packages are manufactured and stored in such a manner in 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.

The storage environment should be potential volatile contaminants, which could have adversely affected the organoleptic characteristics of the food.