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Things to Be Considered Before Buying a Packed Food Item

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

When we buy packed food items the only thing we observe is the expiration date on the label. However, there are many things that should be considered before buying a packed food item.

Packaging

According to the Food Safety and Standards (packaging and labelling) Amendment Regulation 2013, containers of plastic material should fulfill the Indian Standards Specification, used as appliances for packing or storing whether partly or wholly. Specifications such as IS : 10146 (Specification for Polyethylene in contact with foodstuffs) and for tin and plastic containers once used, shall not be re-used for packaging of edible oils and fats and should have B.I.S. Standards No. 1993 or 13955 or 9025 or 13954

Whereas for dairy products, wrapping or packaging may not be re-used, except where the containers are of a type which may be re-used after a thorough cleaning and disinfecting. Sealing shall be carried out in the establishment in which the last heat-treatment of drinking milk or liquid milk-based products has been carried out. Immediately after packaging, the dairy products shall be placed in the rooms provided for storage.

For canned fruits, juices and vegetables, the top cans should be sterile and made up of a suitable type of tin plates which won't be rusted.

Whereas, in case of drinking water, the plastic should be clean, hygienic, colourless, transparent and made of polyethene (PE) conforming to IS : 12252 or polypropylene conforming to IS : 10910 which are suitable for preventing possible adulteration or contamination of the water.

Labelling

Every prepackaged food shall carry a label containing information like the particulars of the declaration required under these Regulations to be specified on the label shall be in English or Hindi in Devnagri script or about the expiration date.

Other important factors are

  • Contents on the label shall be clear, prominent, indelible and readily legible by the consumer under normal conditions of purchase and use

  • Nutritional Information or nutritional facts per 100 gm or 100ml or per serving of the product should be given on the label

  • Every package of “Non-Vegetarian” food shall bear a declaration to this effect made by a symbol and colour code as stipulated below to indicate that the product is Non-Vegetarian Food. The symbol shall consist of a brown colour filled circle having a diameter not less than 3mm.

  • Every package of Vegetarian Food shall bear a declaration to this effect by a symbol and colour code as stipulated below for this purpose to indicate that the product is Vegetarian Food. The symbol shall consist of a green colour filled circle, having a diameter not less than 3mm

  • Where any article of food contains egg only as Non-Vegetarian ingredient, the manufacturer, or packer or seller may give the declaration to this effect in addition to the said symbol.

  • The name and complete address of the manufacturer and the manufacturing unit if these are located at different places and in case the manufacturer is not the packer or bottler, the name and complete address of the packing or bottling unit as the case may be shall be declared on every package of food.

  • Net quantity by weight or volume or number, as the case may be, shall be declared on every package of food.

  • A batch number or code number or lot number which is a mark of identification by which the food can be traced in the manufacture and identified in the distribution shall be given on the label.

  • Provided that in case of packages containing bread and milk including sterilised milk, particulars under this clause shall not be required to be given on the label.

  • The date of manufacture and the expiration date should be clearly mentioned.

  • Instructions for use, including reconstitution, where applicable, shall be included on the label, if necessary, to ensure correct utilization of the food.

Labelling of infant food

An article of infant milk substitutes /infant foods, whose standards are not prescribed under Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 shall be manufactured for sale, exhibited for sale or stored for sale only after obtaining the approval of such articles of food and its label from the Authority.

A statement “MOTHER’S MILK IS BEST FOR YOUR BABY” in capital letters and a declaration indicating “infant food shall be introduced only (after the age of six months and up to the age of two years)” should be there on the label.

Labelling on edible oils and fats

The package, label or the advertisement of edible oils and fats shall not use the expressions “Super-Refined”, “Extra-Refined”, “Micro-Refined”, “Double-Refined”, Ultra-Refined”, “Anti-Cholesterol”, “Cholesterol Fighter”, “Soothing to Heart”, “Cholesterol Friendly”, “Saturated Fat-Free” or such other expressions which are an exaggeration of the quality of the Product.

Additives

All packaged food comes with additives, which may not be good for health. So try to go for one that says no or less saturated fat, sugars and sodium. This will reduce the risk of many chronic ailments. Many packaged foods now come fortified with nutrients. It will be mentioned in the nutritional label.

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There shall be no advertisement of any food which is misleading or contravening the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (34 of 2006) or the rules or regulations made there under.

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