Have you ever thought if it is safe to wrap food in newspaper? No matter, what is the food is be it oily, dessert or dry food, we have seen wrapped in newspaper or any other paper which has something printed on it. We usually follow this exercise in our routine life where we wrap our food in newspaper for packing. When I was a school kid, I too have had this. And I am sure everyone must have once in their life, have experienced this. Wrapping food in newspaper is a very traditional way of packaging. So, why are we talking about this if it is healthy to wrap food in newspaper? Because studies have shown that it is not. Let’s have a deep look on this matter.
Some situations where we wrap food in newspaper:
- You are getting late for your school/office and your parents wrap food in newspaper. It takes nearly an hour or two, the time you open your food box/tiffin. Sometimes, it gets more than time.
- Most of the time, people wrap food in newspaper to soak the extra oil, food which is deep fried such as pakoda, poori, parantha
- I have seen many dhaba wala doing this. Instead of wrapping food with aluminium foil, they wrap food in newspaper.
- Several street food vendors wrap food in newspaper, such as bhel puri, chholey bhature (though these days they have started using tissue papers). While travelling in trains and buses, people sell food items such as bhujia, samosa etc. wrapped in newspaper which is highly unhygienic.
Why is it unhealthy to wrap food in newspaper?
Well, it’s not just the newspaper; it’s about every other paper which is printed. We are actually talking about the chemical ink which is used in printing the paper. The chemical ink used for paper printing is very toxic in nature. When it comes with contact of food, (hot and oily food, it gets dissolved with the food. Once the ink gets in touch with the hot and oily food, the chemicals can cause digestive problems. Both the oil and ink have chemicals and when both get in touch and the food heat acts as a catalyst, they start reacting with each other. Thus, they lead to food contamination and several other gastronomic issues. In some cases, this situation can even lead to cancer and can be fatal due to severe food contamination. The ink contains metals such as lead and cadmium which are potentially harmful if consumed.
Lead poisoning can cause several troubles to human health. It can lead to nausea, constipation, headaches, and stomach-aches at early, low level situations. If not taken care of this, lead poisoning can even damage nervous system and kidneys leading to death sometimes.
No doubt, if you wrap food in newspaper, the chemical elements can transfer from newspaper into your food. While I was reading this topic on internet, I came across some important information from acclaimed journals, which I would love to share with you.
According to an article published in an online journal, Daily Monitor,
In the same article, it is written that Kampala had typhoid outbreak and the newspapers were found to be the potential agents of salmonella bacteria. The article can be read at http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/HealthLiving/Risks-of-eating-out-of-newspapers/689846-2654372-tmpclz/index.html
Another very informative article published online is the following, which can be read at www.dawn.com/news/1107947
A code of practice IS: 15495:2004 was issued by the Bureau of Indian standards for printing inks for food packaging; however this code of practice seems to be potentially less enforced.
People even use newspaper to wrap fresh vegetables thinking that it will help preserving the vegetables for longer time. The ink used in printing is compositionally complicated. Not only the pigments but also the organic solvents are harmful which can in contact with the food if we wrap food in newspaper.
We are concerned about the food we eat, but we aren’t that much concerned about how the food is served or packed. There are several toxic chemicals such as di – n – butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate. Eating food which contains harmful chemicals itself isn’t healthy and if the harmful chemicals are introduced into your food from outside, then this is something to be concerned about. So, all we can say is it is not safe, wise and healthy to wrap food in newspaper.
As we can see, it is very harmful to wrap food in newspaper, so it needs more awareness as we see so many people around us doing so due to lack of information. So, next time you find go out for street food or anything other such place, make sure that the food wrapped and served in hygienic conditions.
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