Food Packaging regulation in India,
China & South East Asia

Learn how food packaging issues are handled in India, China and many different countrys in South East Asia like Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Our ePapers contain detailed country-specific information.



Packaging regulations in India

Food safety issues in India are regulated by the so called “Food Safety and Standards Authority of India”. Find out more about this regulatory body and its individual regulations and processes.

Packaging regulations in India
Find out more about the “Food Safety and Standards Authority of India”.

In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety. FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Food packaging:

The FSSAI has raised the bar on packaging safety by introducing Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulations 2018, which came into force on 1st July 2019. The regulation has made brand owners responsible to ensure that packaging materials are manufactured accordingly and it prescribes that any material which comes into direct contact (or likely to come in contact) with food shall be of food grade quality, when it is used for packaging, preparation, storing, wrapping, transportation, sale or service of food. In this new regulation, food grade means material, that is made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended use and which do not endanger human health or result in an unacceptable change of the composition or the organoleptic characteristics of the food. The regulation lays down specific requirements for food packaging including plastics, glass, metal, paper and board. As per the new regulation, printing inks for the use on food packages shall conform to IS:15495. Furthermore, the printed surface of packaging material shall not come into direct contact with food products.


As per the new norms specified by the FSSAI, printing inks for the use on food packaging shall conform to the Indian Standard IS:15495 "Printing Ink for food packaging – Code of practice”. The standard differentiates between four categories of packaging applications and gives guidance on the formulation of the respective inks:

  • Printing inks on external food packaging: They can be formulated freely, but must not contain substances from the exclusion list or contain toxic substances.
  • Printing inks on Immediate Food Wrappings: Those must be applied to the outside of the food wrapper, comply with the exclusion list and must not contain toxic substances. Inks have to be printed in such a manner as to avoid set-off. The final intended articles need to be manufactured, that under normal or foreseeable condition of use, they shall not transfer their constituents to the food in quantities, which may endanger human health, cause a deterioration in the organoleptic characteristics or an unacceptable change in the nature, substance and/or quality of the food.
  • Printing inks for direct food contact: They must be formulated only with food additives under the appropriate regulation of the Government of India.
  • Printing inks for disposables (e.g. paper plates, drinking straws or table napkins): Those inks must not contain substances from the exclusion list or those, which are otherwise known to be toxic. Furthermore, they shall be formulated to avoid bleeding onto the food.

Toluene ban in India

In July 2020, the revision of the Indian Standard IS 15945 was finally published with a ban of toluene in printing inks for food packaging, Siegwerk actively supported this. Find out more information in our ePaper.

Toluene ban in India
Find out more about the amended Indian Standard.

Toluene (methylbenzene) is an aromatic hydrocarbon (C6H5CH3; CAS 108-88-3), which is a colorless, flammable liquid. Toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. It is produced in the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil and in making coke from coal. Toluene is used as an industrial solvent, in aircraft and motor fuels and in making paints, paint thinners, fingernail polish, lacquers, adhesives, and rubber as well as in some printing and leather tanning processes. Furthermore, it is being widely used as solvent in printing inks, including for those in food packaging materials.

Toxicological profile of Toluene

Toluene has earned disrepute globally for its bad toxicological profile. The manifold adverse effects make it an issue related to consumer safety, occupational safety and environmental safety. Due to its developmental toxicity toluene is classified as CMR category 2 (suspected of damaging the unborn child). Moreover, residual toluene in packaging also impacts the organoleptic properties of the product thus leading to food quality and legal issues. Toluene is also known to be (mis)used as a sniffing drug and the practice is widespread among children and adolescents globally.

Toluene ban at Siegwerk and at Brand Owners

Therefore, Siegwerk already committed globally many years ago not to manufacture any inks for NPH (“Nutrition, Pharma and Hygiene”) packaging applications with toluene as intentionally added substance. Moreover, Siegwerk India committed in November 2017 the non-use of toluene in its complete manufacturing facility.

The unfavorable toxicological properties of toluene is the reason why global brand owners like Ferrero, Mars/Wrigley’s, Nestlé, Perfetti etc. have restricted or even completely banned the usage of toluene in ink formulations intended for food packaging material of their products.

Ban of Toluene and other hazardous substances in India

In India, the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) finally published the revision of the Indian Standard IS 15945 in July 2020. The committee, which is responsible for the development of the standard, has reviewed it in regard to the overall impact of constituent chemicals in ink formulations. This included considerations about their reported toxicological profile, their hazardous to the environment and health of human being and the possible contamination of food products, which are being packed in the printed packages.

The committee decided to revise this standard by incorporating the ban of toluene under the “solvents” category and additionally phthalates (di-n-butylphthalate, di-isononyl phthalate) under “plasticizers” and titanium acetylacetonate under the “various compounds” category in Annex A of the exclusion list:

Annex A

Greater China

In China, Food contact materials and articles are regulated by Standard GB 4806.1 (“General Safety Requirements of Food Contact Materials and Articles”). Learn more about its principles through our ePaper.

Packaging regulations in China
Standards GB 4806 and GB 9685


The China National Standard GB 4806.1 (“General Safety Requirements of Food Contact Materials and Articles”) applies to all Food Contact Materials (FCM's) and came into force on October 19th, 2017. In the corresponding articles, this standard establishes, amongst others, some specific requirements.

In Article 3 the following basic requirements are specified:

  • No harm to human health
  • No changes to food properties (e.g. composition, structure, color, taste or odor)
  • No technical function in food
  • Dosage of substances in FCM’s as low as possible

Furthermore, a functional barrier layer concept is established. This means that a barrier of one or more layers of materials in FCM’s should be used in order to prevent the migration of substances into the food behind it. The use of unlisted substances will be possible as long as there is no direct food contact, an effective barrier available and the migration is ≤ 0.01 mg/kg (or 10 ppb). Moreover, the unlisted substance must not be classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMR) or is considered as a nanomaterial. Subordinated to the GB 4806.1 are various “Product Standards”, “Additive Standards” and “Test Method Standards”. The amendment draft of GB 4806.1 has been made available to the public. The main changes focus on clarified requirements of raw materials, labels or attached documents and compliance statements.

The amended “Additive Standard”, China National Standard GB 9685 (“Standard for Uses of Additives in Food Contact Materials and Articles“), is ongoing to make this standard more specific to additives for FCM’s. Various “Product Standards” (GB 4806.2 – GB 4806.15) are applicable to different kind of FCM’s and Articles, while various “Test Method Standards” (GB 31604.1-31604.60) mainly deal with migration test methods.

The most recently published “Product Standards” were GB 4806.14 for inks and GB 4806.15 for adhesives.

Basic requirements in GB 4806.14-2023 (“Inks used for Food Contact Materials and Articles”)

The mandatory China National Standard GB 4806.14-2023 will come into force on September 6th, 2024. This standard applies to inks and related varnishes which are anticipated to be printed on FCM’s and Articles and to contact food directly or indirectly with potential migrants into food.

In Article 4 the following basic requirements for inks used in FCM’s and Articles are specified, which indicates that the whole value chain have the legal responsibility to make FCM’s and Articles fit for the intended purpose:

  • Inks should comply with the provisions of Framework Regulation GB 4806.1.
  • Manufacturers of inks should control the safety risks of ink products through formula design, raw material selection, production process control, product information transfer and other measures.
  • Printing enterprises should control the safety risks originating from inks through measures such as packaging design, raw materials selection, printing process control, product information transmission and/or addition of an effective barrier layer, etc., and minimize the amount of inks used while achieving the desired printing effect.
  • The production and printing process of inks should comply with the provisions of GB 31603.

GB 4806.14-2023 stipulates the requirements for both ink manufacturers and printing enterprises, which emphasizes sharing responsibility amongst both sides to guard food safety together through safety risk controlling. Ink manufacturers should control ink safety risks while printing enterprises should control the safety risks originating from inks.

The specifications of residual heavy metals for inks with sensory/migration/KMnO4-consumption for prints are also provisions for both, ink and ink layers on the final packaging. Manufacturers of the final FCM’s and Articles have the responsibility to conduct corresponding safety evaluation to guarantee compliance of the final products.

Hong Kong

Food packaging materials in Hong Kong are currently not required to comply with Chinese food law. Food contact materials are regulated in a shared responsibility of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED).

The basic food law in Hong Kong is laid down in Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Chap. 132). It stipulates that all food for sale in Hong Kong must be fit for human consumption. The migration of packaging components that may render food injurious to health is prohibited.


In Taiwan, the Sanitation Standard for Food Utensils, Containers and Packages has been enforced. This Standard is prescribed in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (Last amended on June 12, 2019):

  • Plastic food containers and packages shall not be recycled to repackage and then sell food.
  • Food utensils, containers and packages shall not have discoloration, off odor and flavor, contamination, molds, foreign matter or stripped fiber.
  • The food utensils and containers which are used for children under the age of three, shall not contain di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).
  • Plastic infant feeding bottles shall not contain Bisphenol A.
  • Food utensils, containers and packages shall meet the requirements according to the applicable standard test methods.

If food, food cleaners, food utensils, food containers or packaging are placed on the market which are not conform to sanitation, safety and quality standards, a fine will be imposed according to the Penalties Article of Law.

South East Asia

From Indonesia to Japan: This ePaper provides detailed information on food safety regulations in different countries of South East Asia. Learn all about country-specific regulatory bodies and their individual legislations.

Packaging regulations in South East Asia
Country-specific regulations on food packaging materials in South East Asia.


Indonesia Food Law No 18/2012, article 67 (2) defines that food safety is intended to prevent the possibility of biological, chemical and other pollution that can interfere, harm and endanger human health. Article 82 (2) mandates that food producers are required to use food packaging materials that are not hazardous to human health.

BPOM’s (Indonesia Food and Drugs Administration) regulation number 20 Year 2019 on Food Packaging Supervision mandates foods producers not to use prohibited substances listed in annex 1 of the regulation in their food packaging. Annex 1, chapter 1.2 specifically restricts the formulation of printing inks that are directly printed on food packaging. It is an exclusion list of toxic substances (i.e. colorants, stabilizers, solvents), which is met by Siegwerk’s inks as they have long been compliant with the more stringent and comprehensive substance bans of the EuPIA Exclusion Policy.

This regulation also provides positive lists (Annex II) of authorized substances with and without migration limits for plastics and several other food contact materials. These limits are valid for the packaging materials, but not including the effect of printing inks. However, some printing ink components are included in the positive list because they are also used as additives for food packaging. Nevertheless, all of the printing ink components used for food contact materials need to be listed in Annex II.

Moreover, Annex III of the regulation lays down maximum permissible amounts of extractives for the specific food contact material.

Annex IV of the regulation provides information about migration test procedures by using food simulants.


Under the Japan Food Sanitation Act, Chapter III “Apparatus and Containers and Packaging”, Article 16, the inertness of food packaging must be ensured. Packaging which contains or “is covered” with toxic or harmful substances and involves a risk for human health, and food contact materials that “have a harmful effect on food” and involve a risk for human health, are banned. The Japanese Printing Ink Manufacturers Association (JPIMA) has issued the Voluntary Regulations Concerning Printing Inks (Negative List ("NL")).

The Japan Positive List System (JPL) has been introduced based on the Act Partially Amending the Food Sanitation Act that was promulgated on June 13, 2018. The System permits use of only substances proven safe as raw material of food utensils, containers, and packaging (UCP). The details have been specified in the Public Notice of the MHLW (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) No. 196, April 28, 2020. The Positive List started with substances that have been already used as raw material of UCP before the enforcement date of the Positive List System (June 1, 2020). The period of transitional measures is five years. During this period, UCP similar to those that were being manufactured before the enforcement date are regarded as conforming to the JPL. The end of the period of transitional measures is May 31, 2025. The MHLW will then release the final version which will take effect on June 1, 2025.

The JPL covers polymers, monomers and additives used in synthetic resins, which are permitted in Food Contact Materials. In general, printing inks are printed outside of the packaging layer (non-food contact layer), thus, printing inks are not directly affected and rules mainly apply to the finished packaging as a whole. This means, as long as the manufacturer of the whole packaging is able to ensure that there is no migration of printing ink components which are exceeding a certain level (10 ppb) into food, these substances can be used for UCP even if they are not listed in the JPL.


Based on the Food Act of 1983, Packages for Food are regulated in Part VI of the "Food Regulations 1985". In particular, point 27 “Use of harmful packages prohibited”, bans any package “which yields or could yield to its contents, any toxic, injurious or tainting substance, or which contributes to the deterioration of the food”. A new Draft Regulation 27B (amending the 1985 Food Regulations) was notified to the WTO in March 2015. This draft has been revised subsequently and based on the latest draft received from the authority, it includes migration limits for certain metals and other substances (22 substances, including Formaldehyde, Phthalates, epoxidized Soybean Oil and Tri-n-butyl acetyl citrate (ATBC)) from plastic food contact materials and articles that come into contact with food.


Food safety in the Philippines is regulated by the Republic Act No. 10611 (an act to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country to protect consumer health and facilitate market access of local foods and food products, and for other purposes), shortly known as the "Food Safety Act of 2013". In Section 18 a) it is stated that “The DOH (Department of Health) shall ensure the safety of all food processing and product packaging activities.” Packaging components that may become part of the food are regarded as food additives and regulated by Bureau Circular No. 2006-016 (Updated List of Food Additives). This list contains several tables of permitted food additives with maximum allowed amounts in different food categories.


The "Food Regulations" are based on Chapter 283, Section 56 (1) of the "Sale of Food Act". Part III, section 37 deals with "Containers for food". In addition to providing limits for the vinyl chloride monomer, this section prohibits “any package or container” which “yields, or is likely to yield, to its contents any compounds known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic or any other poisonous or injurious substance”.

South Korea

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) established with Notice No. 2021-76 the latest food contact requirements under the nation’s “Standards and Specifications for Utensils, Containers and Packaging” (SEP 7, 2021) within the Food Sanitation Act. These standards and specifications have been established to promote the distribution of safe utensils, containers and packages and to help ensure consumer safety by preventing the harm of human health. To this end, they lay down specifications, etc. for suspected hazardous substances that may migrate to food from the utensils, containers and packages that come into direct contact with food (include livestock) or food additives.


Food packaging in Thailand is regulated by the Food Act, B.E. 2522 (1979). Section 26 of the "Food Act B.E. 2522" states:
“Food of the following description shall be deemed impure;
(1) Food which contains anything likely to be dangerous to health […]
(5) Food in containers made of materials which are likely to be dangerous to health.”

According to the Ministerial Notification No 92, B.E. 2528 (1985), food containers must be clean and free of germs, must not emit any heavy metals or other substances that contaminate food at levels that may be harmful to health and must not emit any color to food.

In June 2022, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) of Thailand published new quality standards for plastic containers for food (No. 435 B.E. 2022). This is a standard for plastic articles used for food packaging and not a standard for inks. Clause 4 of this standard requires that containers made from plastic shall have the following qualities or standards:

  • Clean
  • No pathogenic microorganisms
  • No harmful substances emitted in quantities affecting human health except it fulfills requirement in list 1
  • When using food packaging, the substance must not be dispersed into the food to the extent that it changes the appearance of the food or changes the composition of the food until it is unacceptable or causes deterioration of sensory characteristics.
  • In case the container is colored, the color must be of a quality grade for food contact and the color must not contaminate the food.
  • In case of print on the container, the toner must adhere firmly and not peel off and come into the food.

In addition to clause 4, this plastic regulation regulates the following in list 1:

• Generic requirements need to be tested for all plastics:

  • Overall Migration Limit (OML, Table 1) = 10 mg/dm2.
  • Heavy metals (Table 2): 19 heavy metals
  • Primary Aromatic Amines (PAA, Table 3), limit is non-detectable (LOD <0.002 ppm)

• Specific migration limit is regulated for each plastic types (Table 4)

Additionally, the regulation allows the use of Recycled PET (rPET) for plastic food packaging.

Furthermore, there are several standards proposed by the Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) regarding packaging material. As example, the TISI 1069-2549 (Colorants for plastics for food contact use) which sets similar limits as the Council of Europe Resolution AP (89) 1. Nevertheless, these standards are voluntary; merely the standard of Sterile pharmaceutical product is a compulsory standard.


The Law on Food Safety (Law No. 55/2010/QH12) is the framework guidance for food safety and came into force on 1st of July 2011. It specifies the rights and obligations of organizations and individuals in respect to food safety. Responsibilities for testing and enforcement of food safety are divided amongst the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Health (MOH) and Industry and Trade (MOIT). Article 18 of this law stated, that food packaging and containers must meet the following requirements:

  • Made of safe materials, do not release toxic substances, do not change the flavor and the taste of the food, ensure the quality of food within its use expiry date
  • Conform with the relevant technical regulations

In Vietnam, prior market registration of the regulatory conformity declaration with competent state agencies is mandatory. The use of food packaging and containers is only allowed upon completion of this registration. With regard to the technical regulations, the Ministry of Health has released four national regulations (QCVN 12-1(2,3):2011/BYT and QCVN 12-4:2015/BYT) for different types of packaging material in direct contact with food.

As a general requirement for all types of packaging covered in this regulation it specifies the maximum limit of heavy metals (lead and cadmium) in the packaging. Furthermore it sets different migration limits and maximum limits for certain substances based on the nature of the synthetic resins.

On November 28, 2023, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam announced and issued its national standard of printing inks for food packaging standards (TCVN 13928:2023). This standard exclude a list of hazardous components used in ink formulation, such as substances classified as CMR category 1, various solvents (e.g. toluene, benzene, dichlorobenzene, etc.), plasticizers and other components (such as benzophenone, asbestos, etc.).