From 1st October 2020 it is mandatory for every shopkeeper dealing with sale /manufacture of sweets to display the “ BEST BEFORE DATE” on the tray /container holding the loose sweets. In recent years, sweets have occupied a significant role in our society, on the occasions like birthday, marriages, religious festivals and guest entertainment – sweet products are inevitable. However, the manufacturing of sweets and sweet products is still carried by traditional methods without any regard to the quality of raw materials used and / or the hygienic quality of the products; under such conditions, many microorganisms can find access to the sweet and sweet products. This can lead to contamination of with various types of microorganisms through processing, handling and unhygienic conditions resulting to a low shelf life of the base products. Most of the sweet products are sold in the market without proper packaging, unduly exposing them to atmospheric microbial contamination. Food Safety and standards authority has came with guidelines on 25th September 2020 that mandates that shopkeepers dealing with non-packaged/ loose sweets, shall display best-before-date on the container/tray holding sweets at the outlet mandatorily with effect from October 1, 2020.
Food business operators (FBOs) might also display the date of manufacturing, however, it is not mandatory. Food business operators shall decide and display the ‘Best Before Date’ of sweets depending on the nature of the products and the local conditions. Shelf life extension is an effort to make food safe for long periods, still keeping its original quality. Food Safety & Standards Regulations (2011) allows use of some preservatives like Sorbic acid up to 1000PPM in case of some carbohydrate based and milk based sweets like Halwa, Ladoo, Jalebi, Khoa, Burfi, Gulabjamun, Rasogulla, while as in some case Metabisulphite and Potassium Sorbate are allowed within certain permissible limits; but addition of preservatives shall be done under technical expertise. Recommended refrigerated temperature which ranged from 4-6°C and 8-12°C for storage of Rasogulla made from cow and buffalo milk, respectively. Sweets are generally prepared from Khoya, chhena, sugar and other ingredients such as flour (maida), flavours and colours. There are a number of issues faced in manufacture and sale of sweets. People involved in manufacturing lack adequate knowledge of regulatory compliances and good hygienic practices. The packaging and labeling requirements are often neglected. Moreover, there are certain issues like use of non-permitted colours which is health hazard, flavor or other ingredients; use of Raw Materials of poor quality for sweet manufacturing; repeated use of oil in cooking/preparation leading to increased level of trans-fat which need to be addressed. Food Business Operators shall now, in case of non-packaged/loose sweets, the container/tray holding the items at the outlet should display, the Best Before or Use By Date. The use of non-permitted colors and repeated use of oils shall be avoided. For sale of savouries, sweets or other articles of food, the notice board should indicate whether articles which have been cooked in ghee, edible oil, vanaspati and other fats for the information of the consumers. Training and capacity building of the manufacturers will help in the basic understanding of hygiene, sanitation, handling and storage. They may get training under Food Safety Training and Certification (FoSTaC) programme of FSSAI. The products of sweets such as Kalakand and its varients, such as Butterscotch Kalakand, Rose Kalakand, Chocolate Kalakand , having Very Short Shelf Life are needed to be kept at room temperature and consumed on the same day of manufacture , while as the milk products such as badam milk, Rasgulla, Ras Malai, Rabri Rasmalai etc of Short Shelf Life are needed to be kept in refrigerator and consumed within two days from date of manufacturing. The products Burfi, Milk Burfi, Pista Burfi, Coconut Burfi, Chocolate Burfi, Ladoo, Lal Ladoo, Motichor, Fruit Cake, of Medium Short Shelf Life are to be consumed within four days from date of manufacturing . The sweets with ghee and dry fruit such as dry fruit Ladoo, Kaju Katli,, Moong Burfi, Kaju Kaser Burfi, Kaju Badam Burfi, Kaju Anjeer Roll, of Long Shelf Life-of seven days are to be consumed within 7 days from date of manufacturing.
Shabir Ahmed Lone is Food Safety Officer