LAHORE: Reacting over a viral post on social media, Punjab Food Authority (PFA) sealed a chain of famous dessert outlet for adopting a strange method of drying wooden trays in washroom near toilet seat.
PFA Director General Noorul Amin Mengal took notice of social media posts and directed his food safety team on Wednesday to verify the complaint. PFA officials raided the restaurant and confirmed blatant violations of provincial food safety regulations.
According to a PFA spokesman, besides poor cleanliness and unhygienic environment of food preparation area, the restaurant was using substandard spices. It was using rusty freezers to store cooked and uncooked meat together, the non-food grade used chemical drums. PFA official also found an abundance of insects in food preparation area of the famous food outlet.
A citizen, Haider Bokhari posted various pictures on his social media account showing wooden trays were placed near toilet seat in the washroom. He wrote in his post: “On June 13, 2018 (two days prior to Eidul Fitr), I went to a famous restaurant in Lahore and ordered sandwiches. After ordering I sat there and was enjoying the music. Later, my sandwiches came on a wooden tray.
I wanted to go to the washroom to wash my hands before eating my meal. I went to the washroom but a chit was pasted on the door that it is non-functional. Since I only had to wash my hands so I entered anyway. Just as I entered, I saw something disgusting. Wooden trays on which my sandwiches were served were placed right next to the commode for drying purpose since there was not enough space in the kitchen. The washroom was perfectly functional. I felt betrayed and disgusted and left the restaurant.”
Bokhari’s posts went viral on social media and caught the attention of thousands of people. Various online portals wrote blogs and strongly criticised management of the known outlet. Public reaction in virtual space also forced the provincial food authority to react as thousands of people shared and made comments on these posts.
In response to viral social media posts, the outlet’s management attempted to deny the fact besides tendering an apology on its Facebook page on Tuesday: “We are open for business as usual with the full approval of the Punjab Food Authority. An investigation revealed that the sensationalised post was made by a customer who had breached an out-of-use washroom that was being used to store non-food waste for disposal. Over the Eid holiday period, the normal waste collection service was not available. Food safety and hygiene are, and always has been our priority.”
However, in the next evening, provincial food authority inspected the outlet and sealed it for not adhering to food regulations and hygiene standards.
Meanwhile, PFA food safety officials also sealed Gulberg branch of one of the famous restaurants for not conforming authority’s instructions and serving substandard food items.
PFA officials also recovered around 80 kilogrammes of stale fish, over 86 kilogrammes of unwholesome chicken and minced meat and a huge amount of expired food items from both food outlets.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2018.