DIC suggests alternatives to banning toluene-based inks

Good manufacturing practices in food packaging

Utsab Choudhuri, senior vice president, head – Technology at DIC India Limited. Photo PSA
Utsab Choudhuri, senior vice president, head – Technology at DIC India Limited. Photo PSA

Noida-based DIC India is a part of the DIC Corporation based in Japan. The company is one of the largest printing ink manufacturers in India, with R&D centers in Kolkata and Noida. With manufacturing facilities in Noida, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata, the members of the DIC Group supply to national and international printers and convertors across the globe. While DIC India’s Noida facility manufactures liquid inks and news inks, its Ahmedabad plant manufactures water-based inks. The Bengaluru plant manufactures laminating adhesives and the Kolkata-based plant manufactures offset printing inks.

DIC India recently launched its flexo inks, an environment-friendly product which was established in the US and UK long back. Flexo capability is new in the Indian marketplace. DIC even claims to have the best technology for flexo inks in the market. The company is currently working on bringing out new innovations in water-based, CI flexo, narrow web and UV flexo inks.

Food packaging inks

In addition, DIC is looking at another important aspect in food packaging, which has been a point of concern for the industry in recent times – the ill-effects of using toluene-based inks in packaging, especially packaging of food products.

“We agree that human health should not be affected due to packaging. Food packaging must not contain any kind of harmful chemicals or any substance that has an adverse effect on the health of an individual. This should be a legal obligation, which can be verified at the time of printing or converting. But at the same time, ban on such inks all of a sudden is also not the way out. It will unsettle even the major players in the packaging industry. We at DIC have taken this seriously and we suggest the industry follows a set of norms for making the packaging safe,” says Utsab Choudhuri, senior vice president, head – Technology at DIC India Limited.

According to Choudhuri, there are a few simple steps that can be followed in order to avoid the contamination. Firstly, one must identify the product that needs to be packaged followed by the packaging design and checking if the food is in direct contact with the packaging. “If the food is in direct contact with the packaging, one can always use a barrier to avoid the direct contact. Apart from this, one needs to identify the effect of a particular packaging on the shelf-life of the product. Lastly, one must observe the sensitivity of the market based on its geographical location. We have so many other factors to focus upon before simply planning a blanket ban on toluene-based inks,” he adds.

Food packaging is often manufactured in a way that under normal and foreseable  conditions of use, it does not transfer its constituents to the food product in quantities which could endanger human health. No packaging is manufactured in a way that it brings unacceptable change in the composition of the food. This leads to the definition of migration in food packaging, which says that the packaging components should not migrate to the food which may make it unsafe for human consumption.

“Good manufacturing practices are the key to avoid food contamination. There must be a clear definition of the product specifications, starting from the packaging of food. Next, we need to understand the composition of the food as well as the composition of the potential migrants used in the printing inks and the coatings. All this information must be shared with the consumer as well. We can work with the brand owners on the statement of composition (SOC), while identifying the risks involved with contamination of the packaging components,” Choudhuri concludes.