LAHORE: A restaurant on PECO Road was sealed by the Punjab Food Authority for poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions of its workers in the second week of March. It opened for business the very next day.
According to the PFA’s standard operating procedure, a restaurant sealed for the first time may resume business after a week.
At the end of the week, the proprietor has to submit an affidavit assuring the authority that all problems pointed out by the food safety officer had been taken care of prior to reopening it for business.
A food safety officer requesting anonymity said the authority had received a complaint that an assistant food safety officer had received Rs50,000 bribe from the restaurant owner so he could keep his restaurant open. At the time, the PFA director general had constituted a three-member committee to probe the complaint which was later shelved, he said.
The food safety officer said this wasn’t the only restaurant that had reopened before the stipulated period. The SOPs regarding duration of closure and required permission from the PFA DG are being flouted openly, he said.
In the first week of 2015, Food Safety Officer Nadeem fined a restaurant in GOR-I for unhygienic conditions and lack of soaps in the workers’ washrooms. According to the SOP, the restaurant should have been sealed but it was fined Rs25,000 instead.
PFA spokesperson Fareeha Anwer said the SOP had been amended a little but it was being observed to the letter. She said a written permission from the DG used to be mandatory in order to de-seal restaurants, but now an operations deputy director can also issue permission for it.
Anwer said the restaurant on PECO Road had not reopened on orders of the PFA. Its owner had de-sealed it illegally.
She said the authority had received a complaint against an official and that an inquiry was in progress.
Anwer said the restaurant in GOR-I had received maximum fine and was issued a warning as well.
She said that if the restaurant failed to comply with the PFA’s standards, it would be sealed according to the SOP.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2015.