LAHORE: The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) has sealed 425 eateries and factories across the city and imposed heavy fines for unhygienic conditions, improper sanitation and substandard food quality in one year.
According to an independent report, the food outlets sealed included local as well as foreign franchises operating in the city selling fast food, ice creams and restaurants serving local and international cuisines.
The report said that unhygienic conditions and substandard food had resulted in 66,510 consumers getting food poisoning during the year.
The Punjab Food Authority became functional in July 2012.
The authority recruited food safety officers and assistant food safety officers having with degrees in food technology.
Nine teams were constituted to carry out food safety awareness campaigns, including educating and sensitising food vendors about personal hygiene, food quality and labelling requirements.
The teams inspected 6,000 food outlets and eateries to serve them improvement notices with a timeline to upgrade their kitchens according to hygiene standards set by the authority. Out of these, 2,500 owners got registered with the authority for licences.
The authority charged for licences in three categories; Rs5,000, Rs10,000 and Rs.50,000.
The PFA also introduced rapid test kits to provide onthe-spot testing facilities for a number of food items.
The third party validation report conducted by General Monitoring Directorate and Evaluation Planning and Development Board recommended that the licensing system needed to be made more efficient.
It suggested that the option for online application for a licence should also be provided.
The report suggested increasing the staff strength at the PFA. The report recommended that the jurisdiction of the PFA be extended to all districts of the province and to imported food items to ensure food safety.
The report also suggested that the PFA purchase kits for testing a wider range of food products.
The report said that the authority should approach the Health Department regarding incorporation of data related to food poisoning cases.
PFA Director General Asad Islam Mahni said the PFA had also inspected the Lahore railway station and served improvement notices to food vendors.
He commended the work of officials of the PFA. He said they were dedicated to the task of ensuring food quality.
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