Can’t put best by date: Small sweet shops

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Some small sweet shop owners believe that the best before tag for sweets is not necessary and is putting pressure on them.

Kolkata: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) new directive to have ‘best before’ tags on sweets is not being followed by several sweet shop owners.

Small sweetmeat shop owners said that the directive is a problem for them, as they have limited staff, and putting the best before tag is a time-consuming task. Sunil Prakash Shaw, the owner of Suman sweet shop, said that sweets generally last only a day or two, and when it rains, sweets last just for half a day. The best before date is thus a useless venture. The owner of Prakash Sweets and Snacks shop says that they serve snacks as well,and adding the best before date for sweets is a burden to them. But they would comply with the guidelines if they have to. 

An FSSAI Barasat official said “The number of supervisors appointed for a block is insufficient. That is the reason why the implementation of the directive is not uniform and smaller sweet shops manage to slip through the cracks.”

The new FSSAI Directive announced on September 25, 2020,came into effect from October 1, 2020. It states that sweet shop owners must provide the ‘best before’ tags for all sweets and that they can also provide the ‘date of manufacturing’ if they wish to. In a letter dated Oct. 1, 2020, it was stated that the directive was only applicable for Indian sweets.

Sweets shops with brand names like K.C. Das and Grandsons, Balaram and Radharaman Mullick are following the guidelines in the directive. K.C Das and Grandsons have best before tags for all sweets in all their outlets. S.D. Barman, a worker at K.C. Das and Grandsons, said that following these guidelines is not a problem for them, and they are happy to abide by the rules. Pradip Mullick, the owner of Balaram and Radharaman Mullick, said that when the directive was announced they opposed it but are now complying with all the guidelines. He also confirmed that they used the best before tag for syrupy sweets as well, which earlier was mentioned as a problem in a letter that sweet shop owners sent to the Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

An FSSAI Barasat official explained that such a directive aimed at creating awareness among the people. Also, the quality of sweets is easier to ascertain if the best before date is mentioned. He added, “food safety is neglected in India. This directive was issued for better safety standards.” 

Sucharita Sengupta, a nutritionist, said “the best before date should be mentioned, as it specifies the time period in which the nutritious value of the food is at its maximum.” She advised people to buy sweets from outlets that provide the best before date as it ensures better quality sweets. Also, since milk-based food products have a short life span, the best before date is to be mentioned for the betterment of the common public. “This is not to say that small sweet shops, with good reputation, should be boycotted entirely,” she added.

Anusreea Paul Mukherjee, the Bong Trippers’ food blogger, said that this directive is a good move to create awareness. Many people do not know how to check the quality of sweets, and this directive helps them in doing so. She advises all sweet shop owners, big and small,  to follow this directive. 


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