Safe sweets

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