The recent order from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), asking all sweet manufacturers to print the manufacturing date of their sweets and “best before” declarations, has put city sweet manufacturers in a fix. They will now be going to meet the FSSAI bosses in Delhi on March 4 and 5 to look for a solution to the problem. It is likely that the state will support the Paschim Banga Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti in this and send a representative to attend the meeting.
Most of the big sweet makers in Kolkata, however, said they understand the intent of the FSSAI and support the move because this will stop “smaller” manufacturers from trying to sell stale sweets, which are often “covered in thick sugar syrup to hide their staleness”. The declaration of manufacturing and best-before dates will definitely put a stop to this, they felt. However, they agreed there were some logistical issues that need to be sorted out as well.
The meeting will be part of Ahara, a national food festival, to which city sweet manufacturers have been invited. “It is known that Bengal sweets are made of chhana, unlike mawa that is used by sweet makers of other provinces. Chhana as a raw material is extremely fragile and decays after 24 hours so we do not sell sweets that are beyond a day old. We are already writing “to be consumed within 24 hours” on our products,” said Dhiman Das, spokesperson for K C Das.
Most bigger brands said some sweets and their manufacturing processes are so delicate that they spoil within hours. In peak summer, rosomalai and rosogolla, if left unrefrigerated, can spoil in eight hours. “We mentally keep tabs on this. Now we will have to declare it. However, writing them on shelves and on boxes are two different ball games and involve additional hassles,” said Subhojit Ghosh of Banchharam. He insisted that because of the short shelf life of Bengal sweets, it is still considered a cottage industry that needs all the support it can get to survive.
Most sweet manufacturers said the inclusion of Bengal sweets within the GST net has already affected the industry because of the huge cost involved in upgrading accounts. But if the FSSAI declaration involves a complicated process, it will further affect business.
“We want the process to be uncomplicated. At the time of manufacture, we keep back-end records of each batch and we know when to stop selling which tray. We don’t mind declaring it, but we are a bit confused about the process,” Ghosh added.
A spokesperson for the 200-year-old brand Nalin Chandra Das echoed the thought. “We have received the circular to give these declarations by June 1. We don’t mind and we agree that customers have a right to know how healthy the sweet is. However, if we are once again channelled into complications, we will suffer,” said proprietor Tapan Kumar Das.
Source: Times of India