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March 24, 2018

Food Safety Authority launches formal operations

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Safety and Halal Food Authority (KPFSHFA) has formally launched its operations and banned eight different eatables in the province and also stopped other government departments ?from using powers of the authority in the seven divisions of the province.

Addressing a news conference here, the authority’s Director General Riaz Khan Mahsud ?said that the authority had started operations in seven districts, adding it had banned eight items with respect to specific terms and conditions.

Riaz Mahsud explained that a scientific committee comprising more than 20 PhD doctors and food experts held a meeting earlier where ban on several items was discussed and proposed.

He revealed that the following items were banned and some of them were given grace period to improve.

The authority banned the carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks and unhealthy snacks like chips and papad in schools, colleges for being hazardous to health. This ban would be later extended to universities and other areas wherever required.

Dr Ziaul Haq, member of the committee from KMU, will provide scientific evidence for the health hazards of the food commodities.

Similarly, Riaz Mahsud said that sales of loose spices should be first checked for the presence of aflatoxins and then banned on that basis.

The adulterated and expired spices are being used again in new packaging material. Ban on loose sale of spices, salts, sauces and coloured crackers with a grace period of one year was proposed with mutual agreement and now the countdown has started.

“Use of calcium carbide is very cheap and is embedded in the whole system so that it will take long time to replace it with ethylene or any other ripening agent,” the DG added.

It was also decided that a grace period of two years should be granted and afterwards it should be considered for a complete ban.

In the meanwhile, research projects will be conducted in collaboration with KP Agriculture Research Institute Tarnab, Peshawar, NIFA, Peshawar and Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Agriculture, Peshawar, to identify other possible and cheaper alternatives of calcium carbide.

Also, he said ?that Gutka, pan, chaalia and chorin are recommended to be banned in KP as they are made of harmful and carcinogenic contents items.

“Aginomoto, commonly known as China salt, has also been banned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Although its scientific name is Monosodium Glutamate, it is sold and available in the market as Aginomoto. Therefore, a ban on the brand of Aginomoto is decided with immediate effect,” said Riaz Mahsud.

He said that nickel, which is used as catalyst in the process of making banaspati ghee, is injurious to health and hydrogenation process should be modified and complete saturation should be replaced by partial saturation. The authority also took notice of crops and vegetables irrigated by sewerage water.

The DG gave six-month time to all the industries to make necessary arrangements regarding the effluents so that it can be recycled/treated, instead of draining it into fresh water sources.

Also, the role of Irrigation Department, and Environmental Protection Department would be highlighted and strong coordination with them is about to take place from the authority to mainstream the issue.