Too many cooks spoil the hygiene seminar

Clashing egos, ‘rushed’ bureaucrats create farcical scenes; participants walk out of event.


Obaid Abbasi October 08, 2015
The event was less than successful, as new Headquarters Assistant Commissioner (AC) Bushra Iqbal, seemed to be unable to manage the event and participants walked out after attending the first session. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: A seminar on hygiene, food and safety, organised on Thursday by the city administration, was marred by awkward moments and ended up leaving a bad taste in most participants’ mouths.

Around 500 participants including the owners and chefs of various restaurants were invited by the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration. The objective of the seminar was to train them on food safety.

The initiative was taken on the direction of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and comes on the heels of an aggressive food safety inspection campaign initiated by the ICT Administration.

The event was less than successful, as new Headquarters Assistant Commissioner (AC) Bushra Iqbal, seemed to be unable to manage the event and participants walked out after attending the first session.

The first speaker, nutritionist Samina Gul, briefed the audience on food safety. After her talk, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Cap (retd) Mushtaq Ahmed came on stage and appreciated the audience for attending. He said the objective of the seminar was to implement food laws with the support of stakeholders, so that the public could be provided with hygienic food.

“There is no personal agenda in the administration to target any specific restaurants,” he added. The officer informed the audience that participants can directly submit complains to him if they feel discriminated against.

The DC left the venue immediately after his speech.

Later, speakers including House of Bombay owner Nadia Aamir, Des Pardes owner and head chef Toquir Ahmed, and Amir Abbasi, an executive chef at Marriot Hotel, criticised him for not staying to listen to their views.

“The DC should have listened to us, but he left the venue in the middle, which shows that the administration is not serious,” he said. He then engaged in a shouting match with Iqbal, the new AC.

Noor Hussain, a chef at Marriot Hotel, was disappointed by the event, saying that the initiative was positive, but the event was disorganised.

City AC Kamran Cheema said he was supposed to invite the participants and media and admitted there was some fault on the side of the administration. He said the remaining speakers created more problems, as they all wanted to be first in the speaking order.

ICT Food Director Chaudhry Muhammad Afzal also admitted that the administration had made mistakes. He defended Iqbal, saying that the newly-appointed officer was not properly guided by her seniors, which may have resulted in the ensuing walk out by participants.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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