The Punjab Food Safety department has asked traders not to paste stickers on fruit and vegetables, as these can pose health hazards to consumers. The Food Safety Teams have been directed to check the sale of such fruits and vegetables as well as make traders aware of the provisions the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. This states that no food business operator shall store, sell or distribute any article of food which is unsafe.
Punjab Food Safety Commissioner K S Pannu explained that the use of stickers on food products to provide information on traceability, grades, price etcetera is a common practice across the globe. But often 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.
However, it is 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,” he said.
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.
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 increase the migration of harmful chemicals from adhesives into fruits. Risk of consuming this is high in case of fruits or vegetables with skin, Pannu told The Financial Express.