Every sweet has a base. It could be Mawa, Dry Fruits, Milk, Besan, Aata, and few more. While making any sweets, its base is prepared first, which involves 90% of the sweet making process, the remaining 10% process involves garnishing, shaping, cutting, presentation, and packaging.
Except for Milk-based sweets, all other bases are prepared in very huge quantity and sent to the cold-storage 20 days before the festival begins. These bases are then bought back from the cold-storage in small quantities as and when required to prepare the sweets for selling immediately. Just before they run out of the stock, I mean sweets, they get more bases from the cold-storage and start preparing more sweets, ready to be sold.
Since 90% of the job, which is making the bases, consuming a lot of time, is already done 3 weeks back. They now have to just finish the remaining 10% of the job that is final processing, garnishing, shaping, cutting and presentation which doesn’t take much time. Which means, what you buy during any festival is not 100% freshly made or cooked. The only fresh thing is the final finishing, garnishing of dry fruits, silver coating and the shiny packaging.
This is why Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), India’s food regulator has come up with a rule of mentioning ‘Best Before Date’ on the tray where sweets are kept for selling. Sooner or later all sweet vendors will put a sticker mentioning the date on the tray, some will use a small font, some will put on just a couple of trays to avoid fines, with excuses like “Labels have been given for printing, and we are waiting for it to be delivered to us”.
The FSSAI is just focusing on the ‘Best Before Date’, but what about the freshness of the material used. They are indirectly allowing them to partially cook the food weeks prior, and then serve hot to the customer when ordered, which automatically decreases the time available for consumption.
Why not bring a rule where the shopkeepers have to compulsorily make the sweets fresh enough so that the ‘Best Before Date’ could be increased for a few more days. Why not ban the usage of the cold storage by the sweets selling shops four weeks before the big festivals like Diwali, Navratri, Ganesh Utsav and Raksha Bandhan.