Hyderabad: To pack toys into food to spring a surprise on children is not advisable as it can contaminate food due to the package material. It may also result in accidental ingestion of the toy by children. The harmful effects of plastic exposure to warm foods can lead to endocrine disorders, hormonal changes, metabolic disorders and also to early onset of non-communicable diseases.
Nutritionist Dr Zeenath Fatima explained, “The insertion of toys into warm foods which are packed is not advisable as there is a risk of interaction between the food and the chemicals in the packaging of the toy. When there is moisture, there are chances of bacterial and fungal infections. Hence this practice is not right.”
The practice is observed as a marketing gimmick to get children curious about food but the Food and Safety Standards Association of India has stated that the toys can be kept outside food packages and not inside, due to the health risks.
With complaints pouring in about this practice and being seen in major leading food outlets and companies and also catching on in the unorganised sector, the FSSAI issued an advisory to all registered food business operators. The advisory states that this practice leads to risk of contamination and also the probability of ingestion of materials by the child if not under parental supervision, and must not be practiced. Promotional free toys and gift packages have become a part of the food business practice and it was found by FSSAI that 70 per cent of the registered operators had some scheme or the other for children.
Mr Shobhit Jain, executive director, compliance division, FSSAI explained, “Unsafe food is categorized as an article of food whose nature, substance and quality can be injurious to health. The presence of such metal, plastic or packaging can make the food substandard. Hence keeping this in mind, we have asked operators to exercise caution.”