Friday, May 25, 2012: 02:30:35 PM

Food Processing Poll Feature

Food packaging a concern in unorganised food market

Lack of options and technology make food players use unsafe forms of food packaging

While the unorganised food market grows in size each day, a certain category of consumers continue to shy away from the products out of concern regarding the safety of the packaging. One of the main factors behind this is the lack of proper packaging facilities available for unorganised food players. While the organised market in India has improved leaps and bounds in terms of packaging, there is still little development in the unorganised sector. For example, local chips are still sold in packets made from cellophane which is neither sterilised nor cleaned before the packaging. Similarly, street snacks continue to be sold in newspaper pouches which have high chances of contamination due to the release of the ink from the paper.

In a recent survey by FoodProcessing360, respondents unanimously said that they are unable to trust the packaging in the unorganised food market. It is important to keep in mind that the consumption of these foods is quite significant in spite of the growing health awareness of the common man. A large number of daily essentials come from the unorganised market and that increases the exposure of the common man to these hazardous forms of food packaging.
An unsafe bet
According to Dr V H Potty, renowned food technologist and chairman of Diversified Food Technologies (India), Mysore, “Invariably many small scale processors do not even sanitise the packaging materials before use for packing their food products and the cross contamination can cause spoilage of the contents in many cases. It is not known how many packaging material suppliers sanitise their products before dispatching to the processors. There are well defined chemical and physical specifications for food packing materials, be it cans or bottles or synthetic products but rarely one comes across the third dimension in packing, which is the microbiological status of the supplies that are received by the processor.”
Food expert Mohana Mukherjee opines, “Some of the traditional forms of packing such as banana leaves are in fact more hygienic than the newspaper pouches and other local packaging material. In the unorganised market, the players also lack hygienic and scientific packaging material because of the cost factor.”
The drawback of the packaging sector in the unorganised food market can therefore be a major deterrent for the food industry, which has covered significant milestones in terms of technology and production in recent years.
Tias Chakraborty

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