Stickers on Fruits and Vegetables: Are they safe?

The use of stickers on fruits and vegetables is a common practice across the globe to mark the superiority of the product. The code on the stickers provide information on traceability, grade and price. In most cases these labels are directly adhered on the surface of fruits or vegetables which is harmful for the consumers. […]

The use of stickers on fruits and vegetables is a common practice across the globe to mark the superiority of the product. The code on the stickers provide information on traceability, grade and price. In most cases these labels are directly adhered on the surface of fruits or vegetables which is harmful for the consumers. In India, it is most likely observed that traders use stickers to make their product look premium and sometimes to hide any decay or defects on the surfaces of the product. Large quantity of adhesives is being used to put these stickers on the fruits and vegetables which may have harmful chemicals that can adversely affect human health. Consumers generally remove these stickers from fruits and vegetables and consume them without thinking of residues of chemicals left on the skin.

For the concern of consumer safety FFSAI has come up with guidance document on advice for the consumers and traders to promote safe food and best practices to prevent ill effects of stickers.

Purpose of Stickers:

Internationally stickers are used to facilitate traceability and easy accessibility of information. The stickers may contain PLU codes. The PLU or price look up are not mandatory by any governing body. Such products are easily seen in supermarkets on import products. On the other hand, if we talk about the domestic scenario stickers does not carry any relevant information. The traders generally use stickers to make their product look premium and sometimes to hide decay and defect. Generally, the stickers carry information like “Brand name or Traders”, “Tested OK”,” Best Quality” or “name of product”.

Health Effects of use of stickers on fruits and vegetables:

The skin of fruits and vegetable are porous, and the stickers are directly applied on the skin of the fruits with the help of “pressure sensitive adhesives”. These adhesives contain surfactants which are toxic for reproductive system. Fruits and vegetable which are sold in open markets have higher permissibility of migration of chemicals in fruits because of heat and sunlight.

Advice for Traders:

–  Stickers absent with relevant information such as traceability, bar code, price must not use.

– Traders must avoid putting stickers directly on the skin of the product. Using a functional barrier is advised.

–  Food business owners must use food grade ink and should not migrate.

– Adhesives used on sticker must not cause harm.

Advice for Consumers:

– Fruits and vegetables with stickers are necessarily not of premium quality.

– You should remove stickers before eating.

– Consumer must peel the skin off the area where sticker was applied.

– Wash the products thoroughly with water before consumption.

Reference: –

  1. Guidance Note No. 05/2018. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. (Accessed on -6/02/2019

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