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Unfit for Consumption

MOST of us consumers do not exactly know what the ‘Best before’ date printed on food packets and sachets means. Most of us actually might not be paying much attention to it. Sometimes the dates are mentioned in such indistinct manner you can’t find it.  Manufacturers have been using “Best before” dates under the pretext that they are not dates by which the food produce expires and becomes unsafe for consumption but dates by which it may lose some of its qualities but is still safe to consume. They plead that if the food packets or sachets are stored properly they would still be safe after even ‘Best before’ date. But there is enough room for misleading the consumer there. In a country like ours where a majority of families live within tight budgets and consider throwing away anything as waste of ‘hard-earned’ money, the ‘Best before’ label can result in consumption of the food items a long period after the ‘Best before’ date. Seen in this light, the move by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to end the manufacturers’ practice of mentioning ‘Best before’ date and make it compulsory to them to mention ‘expiry’ dates on food items is fully justified.

Similarly confusing is ‘Use by’ date. Food packets which mention a ‘Use by’ date are generally regarded as unsafe to eat after the designated date because bacteria may have developed – even if the food looks fine and does not emit any odour.  It is illegal to sell an item after its ‘Use By’ date, but manufacturers and retailers have not been known to fully ensure the removal from the shelves of food items after ‘Use by’ dates. In most of the supermarkets and hypermarkets, the attendants can hardly identify where the ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by’ dates are mentioned. Most of them actually might not even know what these instructions mean. They are not trained with ethical storage practices of retailing. All of us who frequent departmental stores are aware of the ‘knowledge’ and ‘qualification’ of the general staff in guiding the customers in any fruitful way. In most cases, they aren’t cooperative beyond the normal courtesy.

The FSSAI move to impose expiry date on food packets is going to nail the lie of ‘Best before’ or ‘Use by’ labels manufacturers have been using to increasing sales of food items even after their nutritional values are reduced. The FSSAI must make the mention of expiry date compulsory.  Once that is done, the whole debate of calculative risks that consumers take by purchasing food items will be reduced, because sometimes consumers may buy an item which is still in the ‘Best before’ or ‘Use by’ date, but then while storing it at home, the customer gets confused on two aspects: one on when to consume it and second on how to store it, because once bought, the onus lies with the consumer and not with the store owner.

Dabolim In Distress

THANK heavens, no human casualties resulted from the collapse of the part of false ceiling at the newly built Dabolim airport. Who knows when the problems of the airport will end! From substandard workmanship posing risk to fliers to design defects, lack of basic amenities, the flaws of the airport are getting exposed daily.  Even after the airport building was inaugurated, it was not made operational as it was still incomplete. The government was in a hurry to cut the ribbon. Parking and dropping fliers at the airport is a huge headache. In the absence of it, on most occasions, the cabbies prefer to drop people before the enclosure begins and people have to trudge with their luggage. It is a huge difficulty for senior citizens.  What happened to  AAI’s  multi-level parking plan to clear the clog?   Car drivers/owners, in order to evade parking fees, can be seen using the edge of NH 17-B. Also the drive out from the airport is a major concern as vehicles leaving the airport have to adjust and merge properly with over-speeding vehicles coming down.  For snacks and refreshments there’s only one outlet outside the airport and that too not matching international standards. It is quite a shame that the airport in international tourist destination Goa lacks the minimum facilities.





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