Through a notification dated 30 August 2019 the FSSAI has issued clarification regarding the use of bamboo as food contact material. Bamboo has been used as food and as food contact material since time immemorial. Now reusable bamboo cutlery has emerged as a fast growing, environment friendly alternative to plastic cutlery. Already there are many products like spoons, fork, knife, straw, cups, etc. made from bamboo.
The Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Processing aids and Materials in Contact with Food and Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards has examined the safety aspect of food contact materials manufactured from bamboo. They have observed that there is no available literature regarding any contamination of food from use of such materials made from bamboo and so their use as food contact materials if manufactured and maintained under hygienic conditions is safe.
The FSSAI has also outlined the basic guidelines which are to be followed in manufacturing and handling of such items made from bamboo which are given below.
Guidelines for use of Bamboo as Food Contact Material
The final products manufactured from bamboo shall comply with the following minimum requirements
- Products shall have smooth surfaces and be free from dirt, dust, off-odour and colouration.
- They shall be free from chemical contaminants and microbial pathogens.
- They shall be durable and reusable.
- Shelf life and storage conditions of the products shall be clearly mentioned.
- Labelling and advertising of such products shall not mislead the consumers and shall be consistent with the actual composition of the products.
Guidelines for manufacturing, handling and use of bamboo food contact items
- The bamboo food contact materials shall be manufactured and handled under hygienic conditions so as to prevent any physical, chemical and microbial contamination.
- They shall only be prepared from the edible bamboo varieties and shall not contain any other material in combination with bamboo.
- The bamboo raw material used shall not pose any hazard to human health.
- The bamboo raw material may be disinfected in salt, neem and boiling water. Clean potable water shall only be used for washing purpose.
- They shall be dried properly under hygienic conditions to avoid any cross-contamination and stored properly.
Handling and cleaning
The bamboo food contact items can be handled and cleaned in similar manner as any other day to day kitchen ware. The steps are as under:
- The bamboo products may be washed with soap (normal dish washing bar/detergent) and water. Clean potable water shall only be used for washing purpose. If possible, rinse the bamboo utensils right after use to prevent food from getting stuck on it.
- Use brush for cleaning of bamboo straw and clean up the inside part of the straw properly. The inside part shall be free from any visible dirt.
- The bamboo utensils shall not be soaked in water for long duration.
- The articles shall be dipped in hot water for 5 minutes before drying.
- The materials shall be dried and stored properly to avoid any contamination.
Good hygiene practices shall be followed at each and every step for manufacturing, handling and storage of these food contact materials.