Lack of quality check continues to deny Kashmir its reckoning ‘homemade’ brand
Many young Kashmiri self-starters, selling their homemade products, majorly lack registration and regulation from the Drugs and Food Control Organisation J&K. While these self-starters are leading by example, they’re expected to authenticate their brand at the same time for larger market gains.
As Sanna unboxed cookies she ordered from a young baker, she realized that they had suddenly turned tasteless. Her excitement of buying first-rate homemade products that she had heard about from her friends turned into a disconsolate experience.
“It should be unlawful for people to sell their homemade products to masses, until they’re not registered with The Drugs and Food Control Authority,” said an irked Sanna.
As per the Food Safety and Security Act 2006, it’s necessary for every Food Business Operator (FBO) to either register or obtain a food license from The Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI).
“Anybody who’s selling eatables whether it’s homemade or hotel-made needs to have a License issued by FSSAI,” said Vinod Sharma, Commissioner Food Safety, J&K.
Today, many young Kashmiris are using social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as marketing rostrum to lure customers. Among diverse entrepreneurship notions, the most conventional one is the production of homemade items.
People have been consistently attracted towards online start-ups for homemade bakery items, cosmetics, and other palatables. The desirability for homemade items is based on the quality used by the owners to rustle up the product.
The trend for homemade products in Kashmir has greatly upsurged from last three years. Both escalating unemployment rate and blooming creativity are motivating youth to become self-starters. This not only allows them to work independently, but also helps them to earn more profit from relatively lesser investment.
Among these new-age Kashmiri self-starters is Malika, a lawyer by profession.
She initiated the online establishment of cosmetics “Masha by Malika” in December 2018.
“I never had any idea of modifying my hobby of producing cosmetics into profession,” Malika said.
The raw materials used by her, she said, are sourced from the hilly regions of Kashmir and South India and “the products are of premiere quality”.
Another young self-starter, Mehzina Bhat, holding a degree in “Skin and Care” from IIT, Panchkula, started her own online based start-up “Pink Dose” for manufacturing organic cosmetics.
Though according to her the products are being imported from Tamil Nadu and Nagaland but the final processing is done at her own kitchen worktop.
“The well-prospered companies like Garnier and L’oreal are now adulterated, but my products are chemical free and without any side effect,” Mehzina said.
But the production of cosmetics, whether homemade or factory-made, obligatorily requires a license from The Drugs and Food Control Organisation (DFCO), said Surinder Mohan, assistant Drug Controller Srinagar.
It has been more than seven months since Malika and Mehzina had commenced their online-based start-ups but they haven’t still registered their establishment.
According to Malika, she’s still in the process of registering products with the Drugs and Food Control Organisation.
But majority of these homemade cosmetics don’t have the ingredient list attached with them, leaving the customer clueless about the product and its components that they are using. Most of these self-starters reckon that they don’t need official consent for doing quality check of their homemade products.
Perhaps the same belief is preventing a young food technologist to register her homemade bakery “Sweet Chocology”.
It has been three months already since Izka started this online-based bakery, but hasn’t registered her products yet. Even as she says she uses all homemade items to manufacture her bakery products, the lack of registration is seen as a hitch in her brand value.
Similarly, Sana Imtiyaz, 20, is one of the youngest homemade bakers from Srinagar with specialisation in making designer cakes, dry-fruit chocolate boxes and much more. According to her, there’s no requirement of quality check for homemade products.
Another name in this list is an MBA degree holder, Sania Lone, who has been working from past 5 years in crisping up homemade cakes. She’s currently receiving orders through her Facebook and Instagram accounts entitled as “Some Like It Sweet”.
According to Sania, her main motive is to provide nutritional food to people in ‘this adulterated world’.
“This is my work and I’m doing this my way,” she said. “I don’t involve government authorities in checking the quality of my products.”
But the fact remains that these self-starters are bound to inform customers about the shelf life, expiry date and the ingredients of their products.
If not checked and regulated, many fear, these homemade products might go down as medicine’s way in the valley: ‘breed sans reliability’.
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