Food Safety and Standards Authority of India or FSSAI, India's food regulator, has asked local mithai and sweet sellers to display the best before date and manufacturing date on loose sweets sold in their shops. This move will help to ensure that the consumers are purchasing a fresh product from the sweet sellers. FSSAI issued a direction in this regard after many reports of instances of sale of old and expired sweets to consumers, which have posed potential health hazards. At present, this rule of displaying best before date and manufacturing date was mandatory on labels of pre-packaged or pre-packed sweets but starting from June this will be effective on loose sweets also sold by sweet sellers. Why FSSAI introduced this rule of Best before and Manufacturing Date for Loose Sweets? Concerned over food safety and to maintain better food quality, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has developed some new guidelines for the local sweet sellers to avoid any unwanted conditions. The local sweet shops need to show the best before date and date of manufacturing on loose sweets or non-packaged kept in a container or tray for sale at their outlets. As per reports, FSSAI has issued the direction after reports of instances of sale of stale or expired sweets to consumers posing potential health. At present, it is compulsory to mention these details on labels of pre-packaged or pre-packed sweets. According to FSSAI, the Food Business Operators will decide and display the best before date and manufacturing date of the sweets depending on the nature of its products and local conditions available. In 2019, the FSSAI issued guidance for all traditional mithai and sweets made from milk and also listed some of them was with regard to the shelf life as milk products the last maximum to two to three days. For instance, FSSAI recommends the consumption of milk-made sweets such as kalakand, rasmalai, rasgulla, badam milk, basundi, rajbhog, and rasmalai, within two days of their manufacture. But the sweet-makers have expressed concerns over the execution of the FSSAI order regarding displaying of best before the date and manufacturing date. This move will also prevent adulteration of goods and use of sub-standard products. The concerned efforts are needed to ensure food safety of sweets by the stakeholders, including food businesses, consumers and regulatory authorities. Concern over the execution of the order by the Sweet Shop owners As per Firoz H. Naqvi, Director of Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers (FSNM), said the directive introduced comes as a surprise for the industry. The FSNM represents interests of more than 400 manufacturers of Indian sweet sellers and namkeens including some branded chains such as Haldiram’s and Bikanervala, among others. Only 5-10 per cent of the traditional Indian sweets are packaged, and the majority of the sweets sold are in loose form. A sweet seller outlet on an average has as many as 200 varieties of sweets made from different kinds of ingredients and hence they have different duration of shelf life. He said that though he agrees with the intent of this direction of displaying the best before and manufacturing date and understands that it is in consumers' interest, implementation of this norm on the ground is challenging. They are demanding a more practical solution to this problem. In the interim order, the FSSAI has instructed all its State Food Safety Commissioners to ensure the compliance of its latest order by all the associated food business operators. The shop owners are not too pleased with the order and are hoping to appeal to the Government against the order, as it is difficult to implement. Directions have been issued to the Food safety commissioners of states and union territories to ensure smooth compliance of the order. Takeaway In India, there are thousands of traditional sweet sellers that sell both packaged and loose traditional delicacies. This step of indicating the expiry dates of loose sweets will help the consumers to make an informed decision. However, there are chances of best before the date and manufacturing date being manipulated at the same time. Hence, certain stringent regulations should be in place to ensure that there is some mechanism to check that there is no malpractice done by sweet sellers. Also, read: Why FBOs follow FSSAI Compliance?