Wrapping and packing of food items in a newspaper is a common sight in India. Many street vendors & hoteliers wrap food items in a newspaper in order to lower their serving and packaging cost. Indian households also use newspaper in their kitchens to wipe out excess oil from the food items. There is lack of awareness on the issue and concrete steps needs to be taken to disseminate the knowledge among masses to discourage and eliminate the practice of using newspaper for food wrapping.
Recently Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India’s food regulation body issued an advisory which said “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”.
The food item wrapped in the newspaper will absorb the ink from it and then this ink gets transport into a human body when some eats the food. Eating ink absorbed food can be hazardous to health as it contains bioactive materials which can have adverse effects on the health.
Why wrapping food in a newspaper is dangerous?
Ink is not suitable for consumption as it contains heavy metals like graphite, lead and cadmium which affects human well being. As per a research paper 50 % of Indian children have an elevated blood lead levels which can lower their IQ level and hampers the growth and development of the child.
Unlike other wastes, that gets discarded by the body through feces, graphite stockpiles in the body and poses a potential threat on kidney & liver functioning.
The presence of harmful pigments, colors, binders, additives, and preservatives in the ink are very harmful to human health.
The existence of pathogenic micro organisms in used newspapers is a potential threat to wellbeing of a person.
Can I use recycled paper?
The recycled paper and it’s by products may be polluted with dangerous chemicals like phthalate which can lead to digestive issues and acute toxicity. There is a higher risk of birth defects and intellectual deficits in a child if the pregnant mother is exposed to high level of phthalate.
Kids, teenagers, elderly people and individuals with poor immune system are at higher risk of obtaining serious health issues if exposed to newspaper ink.
How I can help?
Any change at the society level starts from an individual. Learn-Aware- Educate. If you are reading this line than you are a rockstar and a light of hope for many others out there. I am sure you would have taken out some learning from the article that has enhanced your awareness. Now it is your responsibility to educate and share this with others. When people become more aware they automatically will choose healthier options for themselves. To start off with you can replace newspaper with banana leaf. Knowingly or unknowingly some people are already doing this.