The Food Safety Commissioner in Punjab has prohibited pasting of stickers on fruits and vegetables being sold across the state.
Commissioner K.S. Pannu said on Tuesday that stickers on food products are commonly used to provide information on traceability, grades and price.
"But, a lot of times these stickers are applied directly on food sources such as on fruits and vegetables. Apples, kiwis, mangoes, oranges, banana, pears and bell peppers are some common fruits and vegetables which have stickers applied directly on the surfaces," Pannu pointed out.
He said it was observed that "in Punjab traders use stickers to make their product look premium or sometimes to hide any defect on the product".
"'Tested Ok', 'Good Quality' or 'Name of Product' are some common terms mentioned on the stickers which do not have any significance at all," Pannu pointed out.
"A wide variety of adhesives are used on these stickers to paste them effectively. Safety of these is not known. Studies show that substances like surfactants used in adhesives are toxic," he said.
He added that people generally remove stickers from fruits or vegetables and consume without thinking about residues of adhesives present on them. Heat from sunlight on the fresh fruits and vegetables sold in open market also increases the migration of harmful chemicals from adhesives into fruits.
Risk of consuming this is high in case of fruits or vegetables with skin, Pannu said. Food Safety teams have been directed to check the sale of such fruits and vegetables and make the traders aware about this.
"The teams have also been advised to inform the traders that in case a sticker is a must to provide relevant information such as a grade, price or bar code, then stickers or labels should not be put directly on fruits and vegetables.
"A functional barrier such as a safe transparent thin film may be used and sticker should be pasted on them. The ink used on the stickers must be food grade quality and must not migrate into food," the commissioner said.
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