In a city like Mumbai, a lot of people eat food on the go. Food sold at street shops is affordable and can subside your hunger. Most of these street shops sell consumables that are under Rs.30 and there is only so much you can expect from street food. One of the reasons street food is cheaper is because there isn't an additional packaging cost.
If you head out to a local Vada Pav vendor and ask him to pack something for you, his go-to packing material is newspaper! Vadapav's, Samosas, Bahijya, Bhel and countless other dishes are served on and packed in newspaper sheets as it turns out as the most cost-effective material. And it's not just street food vendors who use newspapers. Even today, a lot of sweet shops in Mumbai pack their snacks in pouches made of newspaper. If you want chutneys to be packed along with your food, they are usually packed in flimsy plastic bags. Plastic bags also act as makeshift tea kettles and pouring clean cups out of a plastic bag is considered to be an art. Newspapers and plastic bags are an integral part of Indian street food culture.
But in order to curb the use of plastic in restaurants and eateries, the Food Safety Standard Authority Of India(FSSAI) has decided to regulate food packaging norms. The FSSAI says that food products are contaminated because of their poor packaging and hence they have decided to crack down on the same.
The Food Business Operators across the country have been asked not to wrap food products using recycled plastics, newspapers and paper sheets.
An India Today report says, “This is the latest direction to all FBOs by the apex food regulator. The move is taken after the results of two studies conducted by FSSAI which noted the presence of chemical contamination and heavy metals from packing materials into food,”
In a statement, the CEO of FSSAI Pawan Agarwal said, "We have given time to all FBOs till July 1, 2019, to gear up for the new packaging guidelines. The greater safety concern is for food packaging material by the unorganised sector or loose packing. These regulations prohibit packaging materials made of recycled plastics, including carrying bags for packaging, storing, carrying or dispensing articles of food."
The samples that were collected for testing had a lot of heavy metal contaminants, toxic plastic particles, aluminium foil etc.
While I think this is a really good initiative, I feel that imposing packaging norms would lead to a considerable increase in the prices of food.