Srinagar: Despite a ban, newspapers are widely used for packing food products, especially street food in the city.
While the polythene bags come under the radar of enforcement agencies on an off, newspapers escape the scrutiny largely, with most vendors even unaware of the hazards and the ban on its use for packing food products.
“Whenever we buy street food like potato chips, vendors give it to us newspapers,” a Srinagar resident said.
Vendors express ignorance about the hazards of using newspapers.
“We are not aware of it (hazards) nor have authorities tried to make us aware about it. There is no check and we routinely use old newspapers,” a vendor in Lal Chowk said.
According to the FSSAI, chemicals in printing ink contain harmful colors, pigments, additives and preservatives.
A risk analysis by food regulators have found that the presence of chemical contaminants and pathogenic micro-organisms in used newspaper poses potential risk to human health. Older people, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related complications if they are exposed to food packed in such material.
Assistant Commissioner of Food Safety Department in Srinagar, Hilal Ahmad Mir admitted that street vendors and other food outlets use newspapers to pack food products.
“We seize many quintals of newspaper from different vendors. We will do the market check again and where ever we find food is being sold in newspapers they have to pay fine,” Mir said.
“People should make good use of old newspapers like for cleaning window panes, crockery and polished furniture rather than carrying food in them because it poses a serious health threat,” said Muzaffar Ahmad a local resident.
“The use of lead in the newspaper printing should be handled well to avoid its contact with food especially wet food. Authorities must check the unabated use of newspapers by food vendors especially after polythene has been banned,” he added.