After a post titled “General public should stop purchasing eatables (especially fried) packed in newspapers from any vendor” went viral on Facebook recently, the dangers of food packaged in newspapers has come to light. Posted by the Pune Cantonment Board, the post was shared by many, along with personal experiences of having seen the print wiped clean in newspapers that were used to pack food.
“Eating food which is packed in newspapers is not good. Newspapers use chemicals which contain a high percentage of lead, the primary component of paint. Consumption of lead in any manner is dangerous to health,” said Dr. Indra Mohan, a senior general physician to DC.
He pointed out the lack of awareness among the public when it comes to the consumption of food wrapped in newspapers and attributed this lack of awareness to people willingly accepting newspaper-wrapped food items from vendors, especially the ones whi sell fried foods like vadas, pakoras, samosas, etc.
Newspapers may contain harmful chemicals like diisobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate, which contaminates the food that comes packed in them. Nutritionist Sujatha Stephen offers an alternative. “We should start using butter packing for foods. The ink with which the newspaper is printed affects the stomach, and could cause food poisoning,” she explains.
The public, however, is predominantly clueless about the harmful effects of newspaper ink in their food. They accept the food wrapped in newspapers from vendors without questions since it has been a very prevalent practice to date and also there isn’t much choice.
An advisory from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) states: “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.”
It is to be noted that the FSSAI has already banned the packaging of food in newspapers and yet the practice seems to be as rampant as ever. There is a need for the public to be made aware of this on a larger scale so that it can be curbed at the earliest.