The Indian Government has enacted laws to take care of quality standards of packaged foods. Standards have also been fixed for the particular kind of packaging required to be undertaken, depending on the product to be packed. The regulations on quality standards of packaging that govern food products in our country are given as under:
Standard Weights and Measures Act (SWMA) 1976 and the Standards of Weight and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 1977
It is mandatory and applicable to all commodities including foods. The emphasis is on quantity and value declaration on the label to facilitate value comparisons and protect consumer interests. The standard specifies quantities to be packed, expressions to be avoided and size of type depending on the size of the panel in a package.
The SWMA requires certain declaration to be made on every retail package, which includes common/ generic name of the product, net quantity, retail sale price, unit sale price, month and year of manufacturing or pre-packing, and name and address of the manufacturer or the packer. As far as possible, all declarations required to be made under SWMA should appear on the principal display panel (PDP) of the package.
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955
This is basically intended to protect health and safety of consumer and is mandatory for internal trade. The labeling rules are very elaborate and applicable to all packaged foods. The declarations include product name, net quantity, batch number, month and year of manufacture and additives incorporated and ingredients.
Fruit Products Order, 1955
This is concerned mainly with the regulation of quality and hygiene of fruit and vegetable products including beverages, syrups etc and is mandatory for export and internal trade. It also specifies the type of packages that can be used for various fruit and vegetable products. All labels should be approved by the authority and should carry the license number allotted. The batch/code number along with the date of manufacturing should also be declared.
Meat Food Products Order, 1973
This order is mandatory and regulates the licensing and labeling of meat products. It also specifies the type of packages that can be used for various meat products. All labels have to be approved by the licensing authority and number should be declared on the label.
Agriculture Marketing (AGMARK) Rules, 1937
Agricultural products such as nuts, ghee, honey, pulses, spices and condiments, vegetable oils etc. are covered under AGMARK for their quality parameters. The Agmark rules also specify the type of packages that can be used and labeling declarations that have to be given. It is voluntary for internal trade and compulsory for export of modified products.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, 1986 and BIS rules, 1987
The BIS has formulated specifications for packaging materials, packages and
components. Also, it specifies the types of packaging materials that can be used for various types of food products. These specifications are voluntary for most of the foods, but are compulsory for certain items like food colours and packaged drinking water.
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011
Under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the regulations on packaging and labelling has come into force on/ after 5.8.2011 as Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, that overrides all existing rules and regulations related to food packaging and labelling.