It is very common to see in hotels and roadside fast food joints and sometimes at homes to use old newspapers to pack foods. It is not a good practice as the printing ink contains harmful heavy metal ‘lead’ in addition to the toxic non-food colours, which are not safe for human consumption. It may also contain dust and harmful bacterias. Recently Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also cautioned public not to use newspapers for food packaging purpose. Especially it is not safe to use the newspaper to pack oily and deep fried foods like samosas, pakodas, chilli bajjis as the chances of migration of lead from newspaper to the food are very high. If it is essential to use the old newspapers, a layer of plantain leaf, which is biodegradable and safe when compared to a thin plastic sheet, which is banned, may be placed between the food item and the newspaper, so that food items will not directly come in contact with the printing ink.
Dr S V N Vijayendra, Mysuru