LAHORE: Over 60% spices of different brands are substandard and wrongly labelled in markets across Punjab. In a recent spice sampling drive, provincial food authority has failed 291 out of total 467 spice products of various brands, for incorrect labeling, poor quality and inappropriate storage.
According to the sampling survey results, the authority has conducted an analysis of 467 products of different brands, including red chilies, turmeric and mixed spices. It found that 201 products were labelled incorrectly. Around 16 were substandard, while 74 products were stored under inappropriate conditions.
The provincial food watchdog highlighted that on most products, manufacturers had mentioned incorrect or false addresses to avoid action.
PFA seals factory, seizes 7,000kg of tainted spices
PFA Director General Capt (retd) Muhammad Usman said that most samples failed due to moisture and fungi presence in packets. In red chilies and turmeric packs, traces of colouring were found on which most samples were failed during examination. He said that the authority had sealed production units of all products which failed during the drive till an improvement in manufacturing processes and asked manufacturers to remove their entire inventory from the market.
The authority would re-conduct product examination before giving manufacturing permission to these units. Meanwhile, no spice manufacturer whose samples had been failed would be allowed to supply their products to markets in the province, he added.
The authority will publish a list of passed and failed samples on it’s website to protect consumers interests.
PFA DG underlined that substandard and expired spices cause several stomach and intestine diseases. He highlighted that as per annual sampling schedule, the authority inspects spices twice a year by collecting sample from markets. In addition, it conducts surprise inspections of all kind of spices.
Usman said that the authority has defined a set procedure to monitor manufacturing and supply of spices across the province. He appealed to citizens to prefer homemade food instead of consuming readymade products because food processed at homes is safer and more hygienic than that available in markets. The authority is trying to make Punjab free from adulterated and substandard food products.
To curb the menace of adulteration,the provincial food watchdog had banned the sale of unpacked spices across Punjab from January 1. Initially, this law was introduced in June 2017 but the authority had given an 18-month business adjustment time to the industry and dealers. It had imparted practical training to the industry and traders before enforcement of the law earlier this year.
PFA enforces ban on sale of unpacked spices
As per new legislation, it is mandatory for the industry and traders to print the name and address of the manufacturer or supplier, ingredients, weight, manufacturing and expiry dates as incidents of adulteration were very common in unpacked spices.
Though spice traders and industry have reservations over authority’s action, most stakeholders agree with the rationale of the law that adulteration was on the rise in unpacked spices.
A retailer Muhammad Irfan said that following enforcement of new legislation, the prices of almost all spices have increased by 10 to 12 percent due to additional printing and packaging costs.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2019.
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