NEW DELHI: The government is working towards new packaging norms for export of food items to address concerns over food safety and health standards even as some Indian food products face rejection in developed markets.
The ministry of commerce and industry has constituted a standing committee to formulate packaging standards for export of 500 products including fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, tea, and coffee.
The regulations will be in sync with those of developed markets such as the US, Vietnam, the European Union, and Japan, said an official from the ministry.
“A large amount of contamination can happen during transit if the packaging is not done properly,” said the official. “The government is keen to promote exports of fresh and processed food products and is hoping that these regulations will help in increased business for exporters,” the person said on condition of anonymity.
The standing committee is also mandated to help introduce a degree course in packaging as an initiative to increase awareness about the matter. The committee will also engage in research of innovative materials for packaging of different products.
The committee has representation from Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), several research institutes and industry associations such as Tea Board of India and Coffee Board of India. “We have already suggested standards for packaging fresh fruits and vegetables and submitted it to the ministry and are working on packaging for spices and tea,” said NC Saha, director of Indian Institute of Packaging and a member secretary of the standing committee.
The institute is organising three events — International Summit for Packaging Industry, Indiapack Pacprocess exhibition and Pacmachine Awards — to spread awareness about the importance of packaging. The development comes even as some Indian food products continue to be rejected by some western markets.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has on several occasions refused entry to Indian food items such as spices, basmati rice, fisheries and herbal products.
Russia had also imposed ban on import of rice and peanuts from India on grounds of contamination. Australia had issued an advisory that Indian exporters involved in the exports of processed food products, especially containing milk, have not been following the relevant regulation of imports into Australia, after detection of cases violating the import regulations.