In a new move to ban toxic chemicals from food packaging and production, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has now banned toluene along with few other chemicals.
In an internal meeting on July 25, Partha Pratim Sanyal, an independent consultant and convener at the BIS Panel on packaging inks said that the BIS has decided to restrict the use of the following chemicals: toluene, titanium acetylacetonate and phthalates in the printing of packaging materials used for food products.
As per the report in LiveMint, these materials will be included in the existing exclusion list in the current standard (IS 15495).
Toluene has widely been used in external packaging as a water-insoluble ink to print texts and images. The chemical is commonly used in paint thinners, contact cement and glues. It has been observed that the chemical migrates between the packaging and the food items.
According to Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, Siegwerk India, about 80% of inks used in the printing of packaging materials by packaged goods companies in India are currently toluene-based. Siegwerk India is the local entity of the German firm that supplies printing ink solutions.
Exposure to toluene, according to the World Health Organisation, causes damage to the central nervous system. Though this study was done for individuals who abused toluene via inhalation, the effects are prevalent but drastically less when exposed to very small amounts.
However, constant exposure may lead to bodily harm especially through food. Due to this, many countries have highly regulated toluene and banned it in food manufacturing processes.
Pradhan told the publication, “It is a big step forward by the regulatory body which will push the industry to move towards healthy and safe packaging.”
Earlier, in March, he had told FnB News, “Siegwerk’s Bhiwandi site is now toluene-free and does not use toluene in its manufacturing processes.”
A Nestlé India spokesperson told LiveMint, “As a responsible corporate citizen, we are always committed to comply with all existing regulations and guidelines. As regards to your query, we ensure that all packaging material coming in direct contact with food is toluene free,”
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)