Why Odisha’s Sweet Sellers are opposing FSSAI’s best-before tag

The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) have issued guidelines for sweet sellers to display the best before as well as the manufacturing date of non-packaged sweets. This has stirred the vendors across Odisha who are opposing the move, citing the practical challenges and losses incurred during the lockdown period. They have requested the authorities to withdraw the order.

All the grievances of the vendors are being channelled through the leading association of sweet makers in the State, Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samitee. The committee has placed their demands before FSSAI officials, Chief Minister’s office, Food Commissioner, and the State Health Minister. The association claims it is impossible to mention the date of manufacturing on trays since they prepare a wide variety of sweets.

“It is a traditional business. In Odisha, sweet manufacturers in small towns, who are popularly referred to as ‘Gudia Dokani’, are not educated. They have been making sweets since ages and are popular in their regions”, said Brimbadhar Behera, the President of the association.

“Each local delicacy in Odisha has its shelf life and manufacturing practice. If a ‘mithai’ is made at Pahala and sold to a retailer in Rourkela, it will have its challenges as it is a vast State”, the association stated. The problem it faces with the ‘heritage’ sweets of many small shops in different parts of the state was also clarified.

The fact that Indian Labelling Law allows loose food items such as sweets, milk products, meat, fruits, etc to be kept out of mandatory tagging with the ‘date of manufacturing’ was also pointed out.

“We don’t have manpower due to the ongoing pandemic to implement the FSSAI guidelines. Moreover, we have faced massive losses due to the pandemic. Our sales have gone down by 20 to 30 per cent”, said Pramod, owner of Bapu Sweets.

The FSSAI had issued the guidelines on February 26. However, the deadline for its implementation was extended due to the lockdown.

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