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KP and Islamabad follow Punjab and form food authorities

Islamabad
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News Analysis |

The provincial food watchdog Punjab Food Authority, that has been tightening the noose around food vendors all over the province, upon completion of five years of its establishment, announced that it is now operating in all 28 districts.

The PFA’s annual report was issued on 24th December 2017 and exhibited that the authority has raided nearly 200,000 food outlets across Punjab to keep a tab on the quality of food products in 2017. The authority had sealed over 3,249 food outlets for not adhering to food regulations and maintaining cleanliness standards. PFA food safety officials also issued over 128,000 warning notices to improve food quality and hygiene standards.

Similarly, it will also organize training programmes in food safety and standards. The authority will also issue licenses to food operators.

The authority had registered FIRs against owners of 156 food outlets, which were involved in adulteration and the sale of substandard food products during the current year. The watchdog had also sent 78 food vendors behind bars for failing to comply with provincial food regulations. In addition, PFA officials imposed fines of over Rs. 100 million on food outlets, hotels, restaurants and food processing units. The Operations department of the PFA had also issued around 40,000 new e-licenses to food outlets during 2017.

PFA Director General Noorul-Amin Mengal said that the Punjab Food Authority Act was approved in 2011. The authority had started its operation from Lahore, as it did not have any infrastructure and resources for operations in other districts of Punjab, he told an assemblage. However, Mengal said, the authority had extended its operations to all the districts of Punjab and had been trying to eradicate adulteration and sale of substandard food items”.

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He emphasized that the operations wing of the provincial food watchdog was the backbone of the organization and was not only enforcing regulations, but also successfully creating awareness successfully among businesses and the masses.

This comes in stark contrast with the already agitated food and beverage industry over local disparity in standards, which makes it difficult for food manufacturers and cultivators to keep up with interprovincial standards.

In light of Christmas festivities, PFA officials inspected the quality of food products being sold at Sunday markets near Christian communities in the city of Lahore. Under the supervision of the PFA Director General, food safety officers inspected products quality at various weekly makeshift markets, including Yohanabad, Nishtar Colony, Bahar Colony, Wahdat Road and others.

PFA officials imposed fines on 29 stall owners and discarded huge quantities of different food items. The authority had constituted special teams and an increased workforce to check the quality of products in Sunday markets before Christmas, said a spokesman of the authority.

Earlier this month, the PFA destroyed over 2,000 liters of adulterated and substandard milk, which was being supplied to the city of Lahore. Pickets were set up at different entry points of the city in order to check the milk quality being transported to Lahore. During the inspection, the PFA officers collected samples and tested for water and chemical adulteration in various milk canes. Those that were found to be of low quality were discarded on the spot.

Read more: Punjab Food Authority on a Mission

The draft bill states that the authority will be composed of nine members. The mayor of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation will be the chairperson of the authority.

Earlier this month, in a move not too surprising after the establishment of the KP food authority, the government has decided to set up an “Islamabad Food Authority” in order to improve the standard of food being sold in the capital,

The law ministry has already concocted a bill that provides the legal framework for the establishment of the authority. This was disclosed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Law Zafarullah Khan as he spoke to newsmen at the Law Ministry. Zafarullah also shared a draft of the proposed bill.

The draft bill states that the authority will be composed of nine members. The mayor of the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation will be the chairperson of the authority. Other members of the authority include representatives of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, administrators of the health division, representatives from the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry, two food technologists and two representatives of citizens and consumers.

Read more: Soft drinks to be banned in schools

The authority had constituted special teams and an increased workforce to check the quality of products in Sunday markets before Christmas, said a spokesman of the authority.

The authority, the bill states, will have the power to formulate standards, procedures, processes and guidelines on any aspect of food production or sale including businesses, labelling, and additives apart from specifying appropriate enforcement systems. This comes in stark contrast with the already agitated food and beverage industry over local disparity in standards, which makes it difficult for food manufacturers and cultivators to keep up with interprovincial standards and subsequently international standards.

Moreover, the authority will set up a system where a network of food operators and consumers will facilitate food safety and quality control. Similarly, it will also organize training programmes in food safety and standards. The authority will also issue licenses to food operators


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