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FDA's late awakening hurts sweetshops, consumers alike

A mere two days before Diwali, FDA disallows cold storage of mawa from unlicensed vendors; sweetshops say it will affect availability

Barely two days before Diwali, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked cold storage units across city not to permit storage of mawa or any other items, if the vendor does not have an FDA permit. Although the move is meant to maintain adherence to quality, sweetshop owners say it is misdirected, as many shops buy mawa from elsewhere, and will have to suffer for no fault of their own. 

In a recent meeting held with cold storage owners, FDA officials forewarned cold storage owners of the move.
"In the meeting, all the owners were briefed to disallow storage of products, including mawa, belonging to any dealer who is not registered with the FDA and does not have the required Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) licence," said GH Rathod, joint commissioner (food), FDA.

A senior FDA official said, "We have already seized thousands of kilos of spurious mawa. And many might still try to hide the material in cold storage to dodge us. In order to avoid this, we have asked all cold storage owners to permit storage to only licensed vendors." The official added the order is applicable to the storage of other food articles too.

'Misguided'
Sweetshops are disconsolate with the initiative, as the availability of mawa has faced a major hit right before Diwali. "Why has the FDA woken up so late? The raids should have been conducted at the warehouses where mawa is made, not at railway stations from where mawa is all set to reach sweetshops. The FDA's move is threatening small businessmen who are trying to earn a decent livelihood," said a sweet shop owner from Malad, adding, "We are making mawa on our own now to meet the demand of sweets."

The owner was concerned that lab tests by the FDA to check for adulteration take 15 days, and by then, the festival would be over. "Is the FDA against mawa availability or its adulteration? I think the former," he said with angry sarcasm. But the dearth of mawa will ultimately trickle down to the common man, who will either have to shell out more, or do without the mithai.

A sweets maker from Mulund said, "After we came to know that cold storages have been asked to allow only licensed holders, we realised mawa will not be easily available. So we've removed mawa mithais from our offering."

Consumer speaks
Reshma Shah, a resident of Kandivli said, "One needs to check the quality of milk too from which the mawa is made. Mixing happens at the ground level, but FDA seems to be ignorant. It is consumers like us who have to pay a fortune for sweets, if the availability is hit. As it is, due to short supply of mawa, prices of sweets will go up on the eve of Diwali."

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