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June 13, 2021

Over Rs10 million fine imposed on food businesses last month over adulteration, SHC told

Fines amounting to over Rs.10.07 million were imposed on food business operators in the province during the last month on account of adulteration of extraneous materials in their products, the Sindh Food Authority (SFA) has told the Sindh High Court (SHC).

Filing a statement before the SHC during a recent hearing of a petition against the sale of milk at increased prices and use of chemicals in milk, a counsel for the food authority submitted that officials of the authority had inspected around 1,037 food business operators, including restaurants, departmental stores, bakeries, dairy shops, catering houses, water plants, storage areas and packing units, and imposed over-Rs10.07-million fines on shop owners found involved in adulteration.

The counsel submitted that a few shops were also seized due to adulteration during inspections all over the province.

The SFA had earlier informed the high court that detergent, sodium chloride and urea were found positive in the rapid tests of milk samples being sold in different parts of the province.

Regarding the fixation of milk price, the Karachi additional commissioner submitted that a three-point mechanism had been framed as proposal for the fixation of price, effective monitoring, ensuring quality and timely redress of public complaints.

He submitted that as per the mechanism, the Commissioner Office shall hold a meeting of all the stakeholders to fix the price of milk judiciously or milk markets shall be established for holding open auction of milk on a daily basis.

The SHC was informed that permission had been sought to allow to exercise the 1977 price control and prevention of profiteering law and delegation of powers enshrined in the Pakistan Penal Code under the Section 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the Karachi commissioner and deputy commissioners.

The Karachi additional commissioner submitted that a meeting had been scheduled for June 22 to fix the milk price and the bureau of supply and price had been advised to carry out a survey with regard to cost of products, services and utilities that were required for the production of milk and also comparable rates in other major cities that would help fix the milk price.

The SHC observed that a compliance report along with documents had been filed on behalf of the respondents and its copies had been supplied to the petitioner’s counsel who sought time to go through the reports. The court directed the office to fix the case for further hearing on August 12.

Petitioner Abdul Sattar Hakim had submitted in the petition that the high court had earlier fixed milk price at Rs90 per litre as per the government notification but milk sellers in different parts of the city were selling milk at Rs140 per litre in violation of the court order.

The petitioner had said complaints had been filed before the SFA and the Commissioner Office against the sale of milk at higher rates but no action was taken and instead the Commissioner Office had given a free hand to the milk sellers’ association to sell milk at higher rates.

A counsel for the petitioner had informed the SHC that the Commissioner Office had failed to perform its lawful duty of ensuring that milk was sold at the notified price in the city. He had added that the illegal sale of milk at higher rates had badly affected the lives of the general public, especially children and infants.