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Poisonous Packaging: Food Legislation that’s been around since 1929

What does the law say about your packaging?

I get asked the question a lot. So we went to look for you. 

Focus on Food Packaging Legislation

While doing some investigation into legal requirements for packaging, I recently came across this document which you will definitely want to know about:

Now don’t fall off your chairs at the date. It’s not a mistake, I was directed here by the Department of Health: Directorate Food control. According to Maryke Herbst Deputy Director:

“Currently there are no regulations published under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972, regarding packaging materials specifically. There are, however, the following provisions under Act 13 of 1929 which applies to these materials by implication:
Prohibition of Unwholesome or Poisonous Substances in Food

3 . (1) No package, wrapper, container, or appliance used in connection with food shall be of such composition or nature as to yield, or be liable to yield, to its food contents, or to food with which it comes in contact, any unwholesome, injurious or poisonous substance.

The effect of Act 13 of 1929, Section 3 is that packaging material when used must not cause food to be unsafe or tainted. Therefore, it is the responsibility of food manufacturers and sellers to ensure their products are safe and that they comply with relevant legislation. In practice, packaging suppliers will need to ensure their products are suitable for the intended use. Compliance with recognised international food standards such as those of the European Union (EU) or the United States Food and Drug Administration would be reasonable evidence that materials are suitable for food use.”

Legislation Repealed

Don’t be confused by the repeal in Section 29 (1) of the current Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972,
29. Repeal of Act 13 of 1929.—(1) The Food, Drugs and Disinfectants Act, 1929,is hereby repealed.

According to the Directorate:

“Section 29 (2) of the current Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Act 54 of 1972, which states
Any proclamation, regulation, notice, authority or order issued, made or granted or any other thing done in terms of any provision of the said Act, shall, in so far as it is not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, be deemed to have been issued, made, granted or done in terms of the corresponding provision of this Act.

This means that the 1929 Act was repealed but the regulations made under were "transferred"/deemed to have made under the FCD Act and are thus all still enforceable”.

What does this mean for you?

It's quite simple, regardless of the repeal, you still need to ensure the following:


  • No part of your packaging should be poisonous or dangerous
  • Your packaging material must not taint or impact the safety of the food it touched
  • It’s YOUR responsibility to make it safe & comply with legislation
  • The onus is on YOU to prove your due diligence
  • You have to prove compliance with recognised international food standards for packaging

Find out more…

Need to know which are the recognised International Food Standards for Packaging? We can help. Look out for our articles written by packaging specialists coming shortly. Be sure to register for our newsletter so we can keep you updated.

Oh, by the way… these regulations address packaging but there are others that cover other products such as sugar, chocolate, tea and more. 


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Food, Drugs And Disinfectants Act, No. 13 Of 1929 - REPEALED

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