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Campaign to raise awareness on safe food packaging products

By Hana Namrouqa - Dec 29,2014 - Last updated at Dec 29,2014

AMMAN — Health and environment experts on Monday urged producers of food packaging and containers to manufacture “food grade” products to safeguard public health and the environment.

The experts and lawmakers said that plastic packaging in direct contact with food must be made from materials that will not migrate into or taint the food.

At a ceremony to launch a campaign to promote the safe use of plastics, packaging and containers used for food storage, experts and businessmen said food grade products not only protect public health and the environment, but also raise local products’ competiveness in the international market.

The Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) launched the campaign in cooperation with the Jordan Chamber of Industry, the Amman Chamber of Industry and the East Amman Investors Society.

JFDA Director General Hayel Obeidat said the packaging becomes part of the food once it comes in contact with it, which necessitates specifying the substances that can be used in the manufacturing process of these products.

“The migration of chemical substances used in the manufacturing of packaging and containers to the food they store or wrap affects the quality and safety of the food; it affects the flavour and above all causes diseases,” Obeidat said at the launch of the campaign.

The migration of chemical substances depends on the temperature, the type of stored food, the type of packaging and for how long the food is in contact with it, he explained.

The JFDA official said migrant chemical substances must be inspected, while more research must be done in the field of food grade products, calling for further efforts to promote recycling in Jordan.

Three billion plastic bags are used annually in the Kingdom, while each individual uses 584 plastic bags per year, according to Obeidat.

“More than 30 million plastic bags are thrown away every year, severely polluting the environment and harming wild life,” he underscored.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Khreisha, head of the JFDA’s food control directorate, said more plastic and packaging factories are seeking to obtain certificates from the JFDA that their products are “food grade”.

“Only 12 health certificates were issued last year for industries, but the number will more than double this year because during the first two-thirds, a total of 25 certificates were issued to factories producing packaging and plastic containers,” Khreisha said at the event.

Under the campaign, the JFDA and its partners will raise public awareness on the products that can be safely used for storing food and liquids, and also conduct a similar awareness campaign for packaging, containers and plastic industries across the country.

Faraj Taweel, a representative of the East Amman Investors Society, called for supporting recycling factories, noting that the government should eye such industries as environmental ventures rather than investments because they play an important role in waste management. 

He urged the Environment Ministry to offer tax exemptions and incentives to recycling businesses.

Underscoring the importance of the plastics, packaging and container industries in Jordan, Taweel said the sector has created 24,000 job opportunities, which represent 10 per cent of workers in the industrial sector.

“There are 1,329 plastics, packaging and containers factories in the Kingdom… Until November 30, their exports generated half-a-billion Jordanian dinars,” Taweel noted.

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