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August 30, 2015

Drive to check food adulteration,improve health and hygiene


August 30, 2015

Food is a basic necessity for sustenance of life for human beings. Healthy diet which comprises pure and fresh and hygienic eatables is of utmost importance for the health of people, which is also imperative for maintaining community health that is a national wealth.
The tragedy is that in Pakistan the phenomenon of unhygienic food as well as food adulteration has reached alarming proportions impacting the health and wealth of the people altogether. The crime of those selling adulterated and unhygienic food items is very serious and strict action needs to be taken as per law against such guilty persons. The authorities concerned should conduct raids on daily basis for checking food items and special focus should be on factories of oil, ghee, chillies and spices, on chicken, meat, restaurants, bakeries and fast food centres.
The average Pakistani family is eating dangerous colours, sawdust, soapstone, harmful chemicals and other harmful substances mixed with consumable goods. According to our Ministry of Science and Technology there is 35% microbiological contamination in bottled water and 1 kilogram of pure milk is being mixed with 39 kg of contaminated milk consisting of Urea, bleaching powder and other poisonous chemicals. High Level of pesticides content is present in grains, pulses, in fruits and vegetables that we eat. Arsenic is being used in mineral water, which is common particularly in Sindh province. Salt is the classic preservative, but is seldom classified as an adulterant. Many products used in everyday cooking, such as cottage cheese and clarified butter, are adulterated. Colouring agents in spices are also posing problems. Apples are the basis for many jellies, which are coloured so as to simulate finer ones. In confectionery, dangerous colours, such as chrome yellow, Prussian blue, copper and arsenic compounds are employed. Cream is adulterated with gelatine, and formaldehyde is employed as a preservative for it. Brick dust

in chilli-powder, coloured chalk powder in turmeric, injectable dyes in watermelon, peas, capsicum, brinjal, papaya seeds in black pepper etc are frequently used.
So keeping in view the food adulteration and to check unhygienic practices adopted by the various food outlets throughout Punjab, the government of Punjab ordered a crackdown against the culprits.
In the ensuing operation, initiated at the district government level in various cities of Punjab several big names in confectionary, fast food joints and even prestigious hotels and traditional food restaurants were sealed.
On August 21, after the first Public Hearing on the Issues of Eateries, the Punjab government particularly its food department took several decision including sealing the premises besides imposing fine up to Rs50,000. Punjab Food Department also decided to introduce Certification & Grading for all eateries in Rawalpindi district & such Certificates/Rating shall be displayed at these premises. The inspection campaign will go on non-stop. Training in Food Hygiene would be arranged to build capacity of the HR. Repeat defaulters will be imposed maximum fine of Rs1 million each in addition to the sealing of premises for 7 days.
The DCO also announced that monthly Public Hearings on the issue will be arranged to bring defaulters face-to-face with the public.
District Consumer Protection Committee will work jointly with the officers to maintain regular check on the food businesses.
All restaurants/bakeries will be required to install cameras in their Kitchens and display the live feed in the main customer areas.
On August 22, 2015 Punjab Minister for Food Bilal Yasin while addressing a special meeting of Divisional Food Authority and Taskforce to review a special campaign to check unhygienic practices adopted by the various food outlets throughout Punjab said this campaign will continue to ensure safe and quality food in accordance with the hygiene principles to ensure public health.
It merits mentioning here that Punjab Food Department sealed several bakeries, hotels and restaurants not only in Rawalpindi district but across the province for poor hygiene
During a visit to Commissioner Office Rawalpindi on August 21, 2015 Punjab Minister for Food Bilal Yasin, Secretary Food Punjab Food Secretary, Food Department DG Dr Sajid Chohan emphasised that sustained Anti-Adulteration measures be implemented forthwith as per directions of the Punjab Government. The Secretary Food announced the following:
1. The amendments in laws allowing seizure, sealing the premises, tickets up to one million rupees and imprisonment up to 7 years.
2. Establishment of District Implementation Committees headed by the DCO to enforce these laws.
3. Conferment of powers of Director upon the Additional District Collector in the district.
4. Appointment of Notified Officers by the DCO to carry out inspections and take actions.
5. Daily pointation by Special Branch & IB to the District Administration of any violators.
6. Fresh Mapping of all eateries in the District and maintaining Database for regular checks.
Establishment of Anti-Adulteration Courts within 4 months.
All these measures are being taken by the Government of Punjab will surely take care of many legal aspects of the issue. Moreover, districts have also been directed to upgrade their Food Sample Testing Tools.

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