Volume 10, Issue 3, 2021, 2614 - 2623
Health Risks of Newspaper Ink when Used as Food
Swapnali Jadhav 1, Swaroop S. Sonone 1, * , Mahipal Singh Sankhla 2, Rajeev Kumar 3
1 M.Sc. Forensic Science, Government Institute of Forensic Science, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India;
email@example.com (S.J.); firstname.lastname@example.org (S.S.S.);
2 Research Scholar, Department of Forensic Science, School of Basic and Applied Sciences, Galgotias University, Greater
Noida, India; email@example.com (M.S.S.);
3 Associate Professor, Department of Forensic Science, School of Basic and Applied Sciences, Galgotias University, Greater
Noida, India; firstname.lastname@example.org (R.K.);
* Correspondence: email@example.com; Scopus Author ID 57219960845
Received: 6.12.2020; Revised: 12.01.2021; Accepted: 15.01.2021; Published: 20.01.2021
Abstract: Newspapers are generally used almost everywhere in our daily lives as newspapers may be
the first known packaging materials to carry food to homes and offices. The food contact material needs
to be set with the characteristics of suitable products. Preferring appropriate food wrapping material is
a difficult problem because of the enormous types of products, food contact, and practices. The ink used
for newspaper printing contaminates food after packaging in the newspaper, which can severely impact
individual wellness. Contamination of food indicates the appearance of harmful chemical and infectious
microorganisms that can influence unfavorable effects on human health. The ink used to print the
newspaper consist of components such as Lead, Naphthylamines aromatic hydrocarbon, and AhR (aryl
hydrocarbon receptor) agonist that produce various major individual well-being implications such as
neurotoxicity, cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, various cancer, liver failure, lung damages,
weak bones and even death in cases of extremely high contagion.
Keywords: newspaper; food; ink; contamination; toxicity; health effect; packaging materials.
© 2020 by the authors. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative
Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Newspapers are significant sources of information in daily life. Newspaper and/or
associated materials have been used in food packaging or are in food contact for several years.
Foods are usually wrapped in a newspaper to bring food parcels, mostly used by a street food
vendor to pack the food and also used at home to remove the excess oil from deep-fried food.
Food packaging is essential to avoid the contamination of food from environmental conditions,
but due to minimum costs, newspapers are frequently used to carry the food items. However,
the transfer of ink from newspaper to food may affect the quality and safety of food. Eventually,
it influences the health of the human being. In India, newspaper commonly uses as packaging
materials to wrap, serve, and carry food items. This is a food security threat, particularly
regarding street foods or food at other public places such as at a market or fair. People enjoy
street foods. Sometimes they spend their time on food safety while eating or about the like
quality, whether it made in hygienic conditions or not, but neglect the packaging materials
utilized for wrapping or serving. The chances are that the food we take food from street vendors
is often wrapped in a newspaper . Food contaminates due to transmission of chemical and
packaging has been done in close association with food (first packaging). It is known that
minimum contamination may occur from second, third, and even fourth packaging also .
Few chemical components in printing inks shortly transfer from food packaging material to
food while stacking and storage. The chemicals may then migrate into food. Food with
Newsprint constituent raises particular fitness regards because it contains various biologically
material having severe health implications after prolonged exposure. Naphthylamine and
aromatic hydrogen and carbon compounds are significant [3, 4], printing ink shows a toxic
effect. In India, there is a practice of using paper to drain the excess oil from foods. When hot
and oily foods are packaged in a newspaper, there is a risk of chemicals in ink entering into
food products. The close association between the oily food and the newspaper increases the
risk of components being transferred through the oil used to cook food lipid act as a means of
transmission of ink constituent. Food safety and standards authority of India (FSSAI),
established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, has
suggested packaging laws that forbid the utilization of newspaper or recovered plastic for
packaging and wrapping placing, carrying, or distributing foodstuff. The new rules went into
effect on July 1st, 2019. Taking notice of the carcinogenic impact of newsprint ink and colors,
these laws prevent the application of newspapers and dangerous material for packaging food
articles and include particular Indian rules for printing inks for practice on foodstuff packages.
While expressing concerns about the security of loose wrapping materials, rules state that
materials made of reprocessed plastic, involving carry bags should not be used for food
packaging, storage, and transporting or distributing food articles [4, 5].
2. Contamination of Food with Newsprint
Foodstuff packing connections can be well-defined as an interaction among foods,
packaging, and the setting that manufactures an impact on the packaging and/or foods. The
main aim of food-packing is shielding the foodstuffs from ecological agents. However, such
relations can also prime to a decrease in superiority, security, or both . Reusable news-papers
utilized in food-packing resources often lead to the relocation of mineral oil into foods at stages
that are intolerable according to current toxicological evaluations . However, still, in many
places newspapers used to wrap the food material. The adulteration of foods is a chief issue not
just for emerging nations but also for the complete globe who has adapted vending prepared
and ready to eat foods at sites like bicycle, carts, streets, semi-mobile carts having no cover,
especially near the dirt and trash of jam-packed towns, railroad track, bus depots, school
buildings, Dhabas as well as fast-food street sellers. Approximately in India, more than 3
million individuals are unswervingly entangled in roadside food businesses. Roadside foods
offer an income for lakhs of persons in a country with reasonable values to the middle-income
& lower-income classes . Not a single food-packing material is entirely inert that’s why it
is likely for their biochemical elements to travel into the packaged foods. Ceramics, metal,
rubber, glass, plastics, and paper can release tiny quantities of their biochemical elements when
they contact particular kinds of food products. Such release of elements to the foods is
identified as migration. Migration of substances from packing things into the foods relies on
the conformation of the packing source, degree of interaction, nature of the foodstuff, period
of contact, the temperature of food, and chemicals' ability to move in the packaging .
Packing organizations and other food contact resources are also a foundation of substances in
food products and drinks. Anthropological contact with packing compounds and other
ingredients with foods may result in infections due to migration from the packaging materials
into foodstuffs. The intensity and danger of the chemical migrants depend on their quantity and
characteristics (Maria and Timothy, 2010), duration of contact, and exposure temperature, with
the high ranges observed where there was a straight contact amongst the food and packing
material and where the prior had a high-fat content on the contact-surface [10,11]. The ability
of foods to interrelate with their packing is an important feature that can affect superiority,
nature, and shelf-life. Adherence of residues to the wrapping may produce satisfactoriness,
intensify oxidation and off-flavors, amplify waste, and decrease the product superiority.
2.1. Factors that change the quantity and proportion of migration.
a. Indirect or Direct exposure of food with the packing material.
b. Features of the material in interacting with foods like permeability, width of plastics etc.
c. Characteristics of mobile substances such as molecular size, vapor pressure, structure,
d. Amount of initial Migrant substances in the packing material.
e. Exposure duration and atmospheric temperature.
f. Ingredients of food-packing material [12, 13].
In the past few years, foods have been adulterated with Benzophenone and
Isopropylthioxanthone or ITX utilized for news-paper printing purposes. To safeguard that any
biochemical relocation does not carry a threat to costumer’s well-being, suggestions with an
exact study on biochemical migration from news-paper to foods are necessary. News-paper
comprised approximately 3,000 mg/kg mineral oil. These mineral oils come into a
classification. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
recognized an acceptable daily intake of 0.01 mg/kg body weight. Utilizing standard
expectations for measuring particular migration limits, a maximum acceptable amount in foods
of 0.6 mg/kg is resultant . In current packing, toners and polishes are used to the exterior
of packing substances. However, lower molecular mass substances like photoinitiators and
plasticizer present in printing inks may infuse over the material and then migrate to foodstuffs
3. Newspaper Ink: Composition and Its Role
According to Kirk-Othmer, printing is widely used to pass on the information and
decorate objects. This has resulted in printing being used on many differential objects. Special
ink has been advanced for use in diverse circumstances.
3.1. Printing inks are manufactured of 4 basic components.
a. Pigment - For coloring the ink & to make it impervious.
b. Resin - For binding the ink into the film to bind it into the printed skin.
c. Solvent - For making ink flow so that it can be shifted to the printing site.
d. Additive - This changes the physical assets of the ink so that it can suit diverse conditions
Various chemicals and ingredients are supplemented to manufacture the newspaper ink.
It consists of pigments and dyes that can be inorganic or organic in behavior and other additives
such as paraffin or wax to help the newspaper ink dry faster. Mineral oils are usually utilized
in ink used in news-paper printings. If food is filled in carton-boards made from reusable fiber,
then there may be the possibility for them to travel to the foods. Movement of particular ink
compositions like photoinitiators and plasticizers from printed food packing material into foods
also stated. Various chemicals are utilized in producing news-paper ink, although the important
element is particularly the oil of soybean. This is known as the “vehicle” in ink and was earlier
generally manufactured with petroleum oil. However, it currently has been manufactured
chiefly with soyabean oil. Another ingredient was supplemented to restrict the soybean-based
oil ink from being decomposable. However, it is slightly easier to reprocess than petroleum-
based ink [17, 18]. News-papers incline to release the odor of ink over a lengthy time.
Newspaper inks contain numerous chemical extracts and organic solvents, such as di-isobutyl
phthalate, ethanol, dimethyl sulfoxide or DMSO, di-n-butyl phthalate, and propanol. Ink
pigments are tiny but considerably adsorptive; they frequently comprise heavy-metals like Cd,
Hg, Pb, and Cr, which are intimidating to health even inhaled over a long duration [19, 20].
When this newspaper is disposed into the water either by contamination or through waste
material, it can result in adulteration of aquaculture and may affect humans through the food
chain system . Inside news-papers, the PAHs may originate from the high fillings of
mineral oils current in printing inks. Though, not the PAH contented of a product is of
significance in terms of customer contact. However, somewhat the PAH fraction being
unconfined through relocation or fading during real use. Contact of customers to PAHs can
happen by breathing, digestion, and relocation and diffusion into the skin [22, 23]. Newspapers,
question papers, and answer scripts are used for food packaging in developing countries.
Society of British Printing Ink Manufacturers (1993) reported that heavy metals such as
titanium, molybdenum, iron, and chromate are utilized as pigments in printing ink production;
titanium oxide is used for pearlescent pigments; manganese and cobalt are used as driers, and
aluminum and brass are used in metallic inks. Food wrapped in any of these papers may be
likely be defiled by these heavy metals. Heat and the presence of water or oil on the surface of
the food will increase the contamination rate. Dermal administration of black newsprint inks
produces local toxicity at the application location in mice .
4. Health Effects of Newspaper Ink
Food-products adulterated by the ink of newspaper put out particular well-being issues.
The ink consists of several bioactive materials with recognized negative fitness properties.
Aromatic hydrocarbons and Naphthylamine are the chief issues [19, 3]. The ink utilized in the
newspaper had been described to originate lung cancer amongst laborers uncovered to ink haze
through rotary letterpress technology of newspaper printing as per an experiment done in
Manchester, England. The cancer-causing ability of news-paper ink was associated with the
solvent excerpts of carbon black, containing polyaromatic hydrocarbons such as
benzo(a)pyrene. Benzo(a)pyrene elements get adsorbed on the carbon black particles .
Bladder cancer is one more prominent illness related to dye and ink. Maximum illnesses,
counting cancers, have numerous etiology agents; though, direct contact to 4-Aminobiphenyl,
Benzidine, and Naphthylamine has been recognized as the key risk issue bladder-cancer with
this danger actuality relative to the duration of contact [26, 27, 28]. Studies have revealed
health worries concerning contact with some other particular ink mixtures. As an illustration,
rat bladder cancer is encouraged by 2-Naphthylamine . By the way, contact of arylamines
(hairdressers, cigarette smokers, and employees of textile and dye companies) has been related
to a particularly greater hazard for bladder cancer in males . Supplemented to the
aforementioned cancer-causing properties of the printing ink, another study revealed that
newspaper ink and newspapers consist of agonists for the AhR. Pathway of AhR is a ligand-
reliant, basic helix-loop-helix, Per-Arnt-Sim-containing transcription factor that arbitrates a
varied collection of biotic and toxicological properties a diversity of animals [19, 31]. Other
Proofs show that long-lasting contact to comparatively high amounts of a metabolically labile
PAH or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon AhR agonist, i.e., β-Naphthoflavone, can be as useful
at generating AhR-reliant deadliness as a solitary contact to persons that are biologically
tenacious [19, 32, 33]. Other studies show that when a PAH metabolizes enzymes, such as
CYP1A (cytochrome P450, family 1, subfamily A) whichever is chemically reserved or
bashed, biologically labile AhR ligands will generate AhR-reliant deadly properties [34, 35].
The research above suggests possible negative fitness properties for susceptible inhabitants
with conceded organ functions, such as persons with a weaker immune system, like senior
citizens and young ones. Meanwhile, the multifaceted combination of substances from
newspaper ink can comprise AhR agonists andCYP1A inhibitors; the contact to such excerpt
on a continuing base could direct AhR-reliant deadliness. The well-being threat of ink pollution
to foodstuffs and extensive contact with multifaceted elements should always be regarded
because of the possibly varied collection of biotic and toxicological properties. Future study is
necessary to sustenance severer rules to remove community contact to these strong concealed
health risks. Presently, tracing the consequences of long-lasting ecological contact to a track
combination of poisons throughout everyday life is tremendously problematic .
Benzophenone, Benzidine, Naphthylamine, and 4-Aminobiphenyl found in news-paper and
other reusable paper are the chief danger issue for bladder-cancer, with jeopardy being relative
to contact levels. Benzophenone had been described as the key endocrine trouble making
substances in babies and pregnant women .
Figure 1. Depiction of Health Hazards of Newspaper Ink.
5. Alternative Materials for Food Packaging
Food contact material prevents the foodstuff from any impurity or some other
undesirable element that spoils. It makes it inferior or unfit; food packages make it more
accessible to transportation and store foods, providing a stable quality. It also makes advertising
meaningful and makes products more usable and convenient . The chief use of food
packing is to guard the produce against the environment. Additional use is to uphold the food's
superiority through the ’produce’s shelf-life . In today’s scenario, there are various
materials for the food packaging present in the market. From Stainless steel to Bamboo, there
are varied kinds of packaging materials. Day by day, these materials are evolving as an
alternative for newspapers for food packaging. As plastic waste endures to be an ecological
danger and newspaper being a threat to human health, firms are approaching substitutive
packaging materials to battle worldwide issues. Following are some of the alternatives that can
be used for packaging foodstuffs.
It is very important to use biodegradable and biotic material to be used as packaging
material. Bamboo is one of the best alternatives to the newspaper and plastic packaging.
Bamboo can cultivate much quicker and spread about dual the height of a human in 4 years. It
can be made into fibers and thin sheets, which helps make a good alternative for food packaging
5.2. Sea wood.
In the near past, researchers have identified sea wood as an important alternative for
food packaging. One of the finest features of sea wood is that it is edible and flexible. This
makes it a good option as a packing material. It possesses the quality of naturally degrading in
4 to 6 weeks without making a nuisance in the environment [41-43].
5.3. Stainless steel.
Stainless steel has been reported to be the most used alloy, used for cutlery and kitchen
purposes. Stainless steel is a common material for food packing in developing nations. The
unique characteristic of steel is that it can be modified into varied structures as per customers'
need. It is malleable and ductile, making it suitable to be used as containers .
5.4. Polylactic acid (PLA)
PLA or Polylactic acid is thermoplastic polyester consequent from reusable sources like
sugar cane or corn starch. It is biodegradable but may take years to decompose in the natural
5.5. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA).
PHA or Polyhydroxyalkanoates class of natural and decomposable polymers can decay
not just in manufacturing composting apparatus but also in the earth, lake, and salt-water. PHA
is formed using a novel methodology, as they are, in usages, the breakdown derivative of
cellulosic material by some selected bacteria. Both PHA and PLA are resultant from natural
and renewable raw materials [46-48].
5.6. Cornstarch packaging.
Cornstarch is biological in nature, which is eco-friendly to the packaging industry.
Consequent from the corn or maize, it has plastic-like features that can be utilized in numerous
backgrounds that have conventionally depend on plastics. A U.K. based company Corn Ware
has made technologically advanced plastic bags and lunch boxes made out of corn for packing
usages of food industries . The harmful effect of newspaper and its ink has led to
developing new, innovative, and eco-friendly materials as an option for food packaging. The
non-degradable nature of plastic has also opened up a new way to find and develop more
biodegradable materials .
Newspaper is habitually used for wrapping and packaging food items in countless
places. It is mostly used as a food packing material in various developing nations. FSSAI or
Food Safety and Standard Authority of India suggested some rules regarding the use of
newspaper but still, due to least prices, businesspeople, small shops, hotels, restaurants, or even
in-houses newspaper used as packaging material. Some people know when newsprint
contaminated foodstuff, and we consume such food for a prolonged period, leading to a severe
health effect. Newspaper printing ink comprises various bioactive substances, colors, pigments,
binders, and additives; such compound migrates from paper to food and newspapers are
absorbent enough to soak newsprint, which may cause chronic toxicity. Furthermore, when
handled by several people during manufacturing, handling, transportation, it allows bacteria to
get stuck between the newspaper pages that showcase the negative effect on individuals' well-
being after consuming packed food. There is food packaging material available as an
alternative to the newspaper. We need to use such biodegradable materials to pack food. The
packaging material that is manufactured from eco-friendly matter could be the most suitable
alternative solution to the newspaper packaging. Such packaging reduces the health
implications of an individual and increases the hygienic environment for food consumption.
There is some distance between upcoming biodegradable packaging sources and
insufficient knowledge regarding newspaper ink's harmful effect. Food companies, street
vendors, food regulators, or whoever uses the newspaper for packaging the food need to
enhance food safety by using the best packaging material. Do not use newspapers to pack,
wrap, or help the food or remove extra oil from deep-fried food. As discussed above, there are
numerous hazardous effects of newspaper ink on humans. There is a need to create alertness
among food businesses, small hotels, and consumers about the newspaper's harmful effects
being dangerous for wrapping food. Raising awareness about its consequences should also be
governed by concerned authorities. There is a need to follow FSSAI guidelines regarding food
safety. Appropriate measures need to be taken to regulate the practice of newspaper as packing
material and the implementation of alternative sources for food packaging.
This research received no external funding.
This review has no acknowledgment.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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