The Federation of Sweets and Namkeen Manufacturers (FSNM), an all-India body representing more than five lakh businesses, mostly micro and small, wants the food and safety regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to put off its directive on labelling, which comes into effect from October 1, 2020.
The ₹1,00,000-crore industry, which employs nearly 10 million people directly and indirectly, has already taken a major hit due to the Covid pandemic. Most businesses are finding the going tough and are unable to cope with the challenges. And the FSSAI mandate on labelling will only deliver a body blow, the federation said.
In February, the FSSAI had issued an order related to loose mithai sale that mandates the mithai makers to mention ‘Best Before Date’ on the loose mithai trays and containers while displaying them on the sales counters. The order also directed the mithai makers to mention the manufacturing date.
The FSNM approached the regulator stating it is practically impossible to mention both the dates on trays due to various reasons, including the fact that the range of mithai displayed on counters is vast. Moreover, mithai making is a traditional industry with the educational level of many manufacturers not high. This is particularly true of those from smaller towns. These manufacturers have been making mithais since ages and are very popular for their delicacies in each city and region of the country.
Firoz H Naqvi, Director of FSNM, said: “The FSSAI had given a patient hearing on the subject and has asked FSNM to come out with some solutions wherein consumers can be made aware about the freshness of the sweets. According to the Indian labelling law, loose food products such as mithai, milk and milk products, vegetables and fruits, eggs and meat, and cookies and biscuits are exempted from displaying date of manufacturing or best before date.”
With the festive and Diwali season ahead, the FSNM has asked for extension. Naqvi said: “We are in constant touch with the FSSAI and have requested for further extension for at least 6 more months.”
“Diwali provides us with one last opportunity for the business to pick up and we cannot afford any disruption at this crucial time,” he said.
According to Virendra Jain, President of the federation, due to the sudden lockdown, mithai manufacturers faced heavy losses. And, they are yet to recover from the impact.