LAHORE: The provincial government has granted permission to the Punjab Food Authority to spread its wings over the entire province by the end of 2017.
According to officials of the Punjab Food Authority, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during a meeting on Friday, granted permission to the body to expand its area of control to five divisions by June 2017. By the end of the year, it will take over the entire province.
An official said that in the first phase, the PFA will expand its control to the divisional level in Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi. He said the Punjab Food Authority, in October 2016, expanded from Lahore to Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi cities. He added that in the same month, a special camp office of PFA was also established in Murree on the instructions of the chief minister. The objective was to ensure that quality food with proper hygiene is provided to tourists visiting from across the country.
The official stated the Punjab Food Authority will launch two mobile testing laboratories, capable of a comprehensive adulteration testing, by the end of the January 2017. He added a total of six mobile testing laboratories will be launched this year.
He said each mobile testing facility will cost roughly Rs15 million and be capable of all sorts of adulteration tests. The official continued that samples will be tested on the spot, with the help of field officers, to decide the fate of the case.
He said bringing these samples to Lahore city from other areas affected the quality of samples collected for testing.
The authority official further stated that a vigilance cell will also be created by the end of 2017, approval to which was granted by the CM. He said the body will collect information needed for raids.
He said that currently the authority was relying either on media reports or complaints to raid places involved in adulteration. He said that after creation of this cell, a food safety officer will only focus on their work instead of seeking out cases.
Chief Minister Punjab Shehabaz Sharif, in his statement issued to the media, said adulteration was a heinous crime. He added groups or individuals involved in these cases should be brought to justice. During the meeting, he instructed the hiring of top quality human resources for PFA and said he was unhappy that the process was not completed in time. He added people cannot be left at n the mercy of adulterators.
The CM also instructed the preparation of a draft for amendments to Punjab Food Rules, 1960. Shehbaz said the authority should decide its matters on its own. He added there was no need to send summaries to the government for approval.
He said adulterators will also be put behind bars and slapped with heavy fines to teach them a lesson. Shehbaz also instructed punishment for Rawalpindi food safety officers of who were found guilty of extending undue favours to an adulterator.
He said adulteration of milk and cooking oil must be stopped. The CM continued that such criminals were enemies of mankind and will not be allowed to play with the lives of people.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2017.