Home / Industry / Retail /  Sweet sellers to display ‘best before’ and manufacturing date from 1 June

NEW DELHI : Your neighbourhood halwai shop will soon have to declare the manufacturing and best before date of all loose sweets available in his shop. India’s food regulator, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked local mithai and sweet shop owners to display the manufacturing date and the “best before" date on loose sweets sold in their shops in a move that will help ensure that the consumers are purchasing a fresh product.

In an order issued on Monday, FSSAI—the food regulator—has asked all mithai shops to use such labelling on the trays that carry loose sweets. “Further, in public interest and to ensure food safety, it has been directed that in case of non-packaged/loose sweets the container or tray holding sweets at the outlet should display the “date of manufacturing" and “best before date" of the said products," the order said. The order, which will be effective 1 June.

Citing instances of stale and expired sweets being sold in the market, the FSSAI said it is asking shops to comply with such labelling orders to ensure that consumption of such products does not pose a potential health hazard to the consumers.

An indicative shelf life along with a suggestive logo of various types of sweets has been given in a separate guidance note on milk products issued by the FSSAI.

“Traditional milk-based sweets are generally prepared from khoya, chhena, sugar and other ingredients such as maida, flavours and colours e.g. peda, burfi, milk cake, gulab jamun, rasgulla, rasmalai etc. Sweets have limited shelf life. Sweets particularly those with milk products have lesser shelf life and are more prone to microbial growth. Therefore sanitation and hygiene in their preparation and consumption within shelf life is of utmost importance," according to the guidance note.

“Moreover, there are issues of adulteration and use of sub-standard products," the regulator said in the noted. Concerted efforts are needed to ensure food safety of sweets by stakeholders including food businesses, consumers and regulatory authorities, the regulator said.

Not too pleased with the diktat, sweet shop owners are hoping to appeal to the government against the order they say is difficult to implement.

“We are with FSSAI, but some things are hard to implement. A lot of milk products have a limited shelf life, and some have a longer shelf life. Some shops have 200 to 300 products and it is difficult to put a label on each category because of varying shelf lives, " said Firoz H. Naqvi, managing director, Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers (FSNM).

The FSNM represents interests of over 400 manufacturers of Indian sweets and namkeens including branded chains such as Haldiram’s and Bikanervala, among others. Naqvi said that the association was not consulted before publishing the order.

“We will write to the government, put out our concerns, and try and meet midway, where their concerns are met and ours too," he added.

Branded sweet retailers already follow the practice for their packaged products such as rasgulla and soan papdi.

India has thousands of traditional mithai shops that sell packaged and loose traditional delicacies.

Most sell dairy-based sweets prepared with khoya, desi ghee, along with cooking oil, refined sugar etc. Such sweets are sometimes found to be adulterated or are sold beyond their expiry dates.

Food safety commissioners of states and union territories have been directed to ensure compliance of the order.

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