Food regulator sent shockwaves in traditional Syrup and sharbat industry

Oct 16, 2018
Sending shockwaves in the traditional Indian beverage industry, the apex food regulator has with its recent decision to review the standards of synthetic syrup and sharbat, shaken the core.
 The beverage industry states that the said revision is not only scientifically inconsistent but it appears to have been implemented to make it impracticable for manufacturers to make any commercial products with the variety.
Major players like Dabur, Hamdard and Guruji Thandaiwala, have raised objection to the proposal wherein two new constraints of ‘specific gravity’ and ‘ph value’ have been added and the category of fruit syrup and sharbat is not mentioned.
The beverages industry is of the view that the constraints are made in such a way that it would be very difficult for the players to make synthetic syrups and sharbats. The said proposal asserts that the existing norms and standards for the category did not require any changes.
Thus, several notification have been sent to the FSSAI on the proposed draft of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2018, relating to revision of standards of synthetic syrup and sharbat.
In the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, in Regulation 2.3  relating to “Fruit & Vegetable Products,” the sub-regulation 2.3.21 relating to “Squashes, Crushes, Fruit Syrups/Fruit Sharbats and Barley Water” is proposed to be substituted by – 2.3.21 for Squashes, Crushes, Cordial and Barley Water, without mentioning fruit syrups and fruit sharbats.
Further the sub-regulation 2.3.24 relating to “Synthetic Syrup or Sharbat” is proposed to be substituted by- 2.3.24 Sharbat and Synthetic Syrup, wherein the ‘or’ has been changed to ‘and,’ which has serious implications on such products’ manufacturing.
While earlier under 2.3.24, no mention of any parameter except of Total Soluble Solids not less than 65 per cent by weight was made. Now, FSSAI has proposed certain parameters to be met.
For sharbats, Acidity as citric acid has been stated between 0.05 to 0.15%, Specific Gravity between 1.3 to 1.5 per cent, Total Soluble Solids-TSS – (Per cent by mass) is More than 30.0 per cent and pH is Less than 4.5.
For synthetic syrup, Acidity as citric acid has been stated at  0.1 to 0.3, Specific Gravity at 1.0 to 1.5, Total Soluble Solids (Percent by mass) More than 30.0 while pH should be Less than 4.5.
These parameters will be difficult to make the specific products added a source from the beverage industry. It added that the TSS for both synthetic syrup and sharbat is proposed to be reduced to 30 per cent against the current limit of 65 per cent. This is unfeasible as a product with only 30 per cent of TSS can only be preserved chemically while under current parameters it is self-preserving. The proposal from FSSAI also mentions prohibiting use of any flavour.
Acidity presence for sharbat with mini 25 per cent fruit juice is being fixed at 0.05-0.15 per cent and for synthetic syrup with no fruit juice is being fixed at 0.1-0.3 per cent against the 3.5 per cent under present situation. It would not be possible to formulate juice conforming to these parameters, stated another industry insider.
He questioned the technical necessity to do so. Adding to which he said that how this level will be achieved with low acidic content. They are self contradictory, he retorted.
Guruji Thandaiwala Pvt. Ltd stated that the classification of sharbat and syrup was impractical and perplexing. The prohibition of using any flavour will make the product tasteless, hence unfit for sale.
Acidity and pH are interrelated and with low acidity the pH value prescribed is not achievable. Further with TSS at 30 per cent, the specific gravity of 1.3 cannot be achieved.
Drawing the attention of FSSAI to 2.3.21 sub regulation 1.4 wherein the regulation says that any syrup/ sharbats containing a minimum of 10% of dry fruits shall also qualify to be called as fruits syrups while in new regulations it has been proposed that 25% fruit juice is required.
Hamdard also in its representation mentioned that for almost a century they are producing sharbats in India and Hamdard is known for its scientific preservation techniques wherein it uses natural identical flavours along with natural flavours, fruit juices and herbal distillates.
The proposed draft for sharbat seems unreal and unscientific and  it will completely destroy the essence and sensorial characteristics of sharbat making also subvert the delicate balance of ingredients, rendering the product unsuitable and unsaleable for desired use.
One such questionable syrup is KHUS. Can it be prepared without use of flavouring agents?

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