Food minister condemns attack on PFA team

Says no one will be allowed to play with human lives by adulterating eatables


Our Correspondent June 25, 2018
After several scuffles with tourists, the staff of a Murree hotel attacked PFA officials on Saturday for sealing two hotels over poor hygiene and cleanliness issues. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Caretaker Provincial Minister for Food, Agriculture, Planning and Development Sardar Tanvir Ilyas Khan on Sunday strongly condemned the attack on a Punjab Food Authority (PFA) team during a raid in Murree after the team found the quality of the food and the state of hygiene unsatisfactory.

After several scuffles with tourists, the staff of a Murree hotel attacked PFA officials on Saturday for sealing two hotels over poor hygiene and cleanliness issues.

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A spokesperson for the PFA said the employees of Move-n-Pick and Four Seasons attacked PFA Director General Noorul Amin Mengal and  the food safety team when they tried to impose a fine and seal the hotels for poor cleanliness. They also attempted to attack the food safety team with knives, but luckily all the team members remained unhurt. Enraged hotel employees also misbehaved with female members of the food safety team, the spokesperson said.

He said hotel employees also kept PFA officers, including the DG, hostage for several hours. The spokesperson said both the properties belong to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) former MPAs Raja Hanif and Raja Ashfaq Sarwar. After getting released, the PFA officials filed a written complaint with Murree police station and registered a criminal case against assailants.

PFA spokesperson said the authority’s food safety team was on a routine inspection drive. PFA officials discovered very poor cleanliness and unhygienic conditions in the hotel’s kitchen. The entire food preparation area was dirty. The rotten food item such as chicken, tomatoes, onion and chillies were scattered. Cockroaches were also seen in the kitchen.

PFA official decided to impose a fine on the hotel management on which the hotel staff attacked them. “They dragged PFA officials, including the DG and five female team members, into a room and locked them up beside snatching their mobile phones,” the spokesperson maintained and added that the PFA officials have faced resistance by the management of Four Seasons Hotel that was owned by the former minister for labour and manpower Raja Ashfaq Sarwar.

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The food minister directed to ensure security to raiding teams to an utmost possible extent. He said no one would be allowed to play with human lives by adulterating eatables and violating set standards of government bodies. He further said strict action would be taken against those hotels and people not ensuring cooperation with the food authority teams.

“Practicing standardised procedures of hygiene and good health is the moral responsibility of all of us and it must be demonstrated without force,” the minister added.

Meanwhile, the food safety watchdog sealed a famous coffee point and imposed Rs500,000 on a five-star hotel in Bhurban, while raiding on both sites. The raids were conducted under the supervision of PFA director. A coffee shop in Murree was shut down, owing to poor cleanliness conditions, the presence of cockroaches, and for using expired commodities in the preparing food.

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The PFA spokesperson said the five-star hotel was penalised over failure to present the record of water filters, the presence of rotten eggs in the bakery section of the hotel, and blood marks on the floor in the meat section.

He said the PFA also witnessed poor cleanliness arrangements. The authority served a notice to the hotel’s administration to improve the condition of the hotel. “The PFA will conduct intensive crackdown in order to ensure the implementation of food regulation in Murree and its adjoining areas. It is the responsibility of PFA to ensure the provision of hygiene and quality food for tourists,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2018.

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