Sweets and Festivals make the best pair. Across all the countries and cultures, festivals are incomplete without ample servings of sweets. Like in India, no festival is ever complete without melt-in-the-mouth Mysuru paak, the universally loved kaju katli and juicy, soft rasgullas!
Choosing the right mithai in a shop then becomes a meticulous exercise! Aiding consumers in their desire to buy the best quality product, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued an order on 24 February saying that all sweet shops must carry the manufacturing date and the “Best before Date” for loose sweets sold in their premises. The “Best before Date” of the sweets would depend on the nature of the product and the local conditions.
What the Regulatory Authority Say
The Guidance note released by FSSAI on spoke about ensuring hygiene and sanitation in manufacturing of milk products, especially sweets. The freshness and the possibility of adulteration is to be ascertained by observing the taste, texture, and color of the milk products. The Regulatory authorities will conduct regular surveillance and enforcement of the order.
FSSAI conducted a survey of milk products in Delhi between 15 October and 7 November 2019, where 1041 samples of products including Khoya, paneer, ghee and milk based sweets were collected and tested at the National Food Laboratory in Ghaziabad. These samples were drawn from 11 districts across Delhi NCR and coincided with the festival season.
This was the first instance where the tests also focussed on the microbiological factors. The results thus revealed that on both chemical and microbiological parameters, the consumption of the products was not safe.
Accordingly, the FSSAI has stated some guidelines for these food businesses to ensure the right practices and thereby, make safe food available to the public.
A few of these guidelines direct shops which sell loose sweets in trays to label ‘best before’ or ‘use by date’, along with information about whether oil, ghee or vanaspati is used. Use of non-permitted colors and oil must be avoided.
The outlet must get their samples tested from FSSAI notified laboratories on a regular basis, along with a display of the FSSAI License or registration in the unit.
What Can You Do
This order will be effective from 1 June 2020. Until then, we have a bunch of festivals before that, with Holi right around the corner.
Consuming spoilt sweets may have quite a few repercussions. Krishnaveri Kottala, 36, Deputy technical manager at Nexus Test Labs In Bengaluru says that bacterial contamination is some of the most common in sweets. “When we eat these sweets which have been contaminated, one may suffer from headaches, vomiting, and loose motions, among other symptoms,” she says.
Additionally, the ingredients used to make these sweets may also be adulterated. “Some common ingredients which are added to make milk used in these sweets thicker are starch, detergents and even soaps!” she states.
So, what can we do to ensure we do not end up consuming sweets that may be spoilt?
She says that the best way to find out is to taste and smell the product. The sweets should not taste sour nor should it smell foul. One must ensure that the shop they are buying from has FSSAI certifications. Also, it is always a good idea to buy packed sweets that already come with the date of manufacturing and the ‘best before date’ in quite a lot of sweet shops even now.
What are you waiting for? Go buy your favourite sweets now and spread joy.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)