* Food outlets continuing to sell adulterated and substandard foodstuffs despite recent Food Dept operation
* Chief food inspector says punished violators still operating due to shortage of employees to follow up on cases
By Afnan Khan (Daily Times)
LAHORE: Adulterated and substandard food is still being sold at various important markets of the city as the District Food Department’s recent operation to shut down food outlets selling hazardous foodstuffs could not make a significant dent on the business, Daily Times learnt on Saturday.
The department was supposed to clear all the major localities, including Gulberg, Model Town, Shadman, Garden Town, Barkat Market, Lakshmi Chowk and Gowalmandi, from adulterated and substandard foodstuffs to ensure the provision of good quality food to citizens ahead of Ramazan.
Some District Food Department officials told Daily Times that the business of most hotels and restaurants depended on iftar parties. They said that such gatherings would increase the demand of eatable items, increasing the chances of having substandard and adulterated food served to consumers.
Operation: “The department has apparently completed its operation against outlets selling substandard food in all the major parts of the city, but the sale of substandard food still continues,” a senior Food Department official told Daily Times. He said that the department officials had only focused on satisfying paperwork instead of booking outlets selling substandard foodstuffs. He said that hotels and restaurants across the city had been operating without following the safety standards laid down by the Food Department.
“You can see people cooking and heating food items on main roads, which has been prohibited by the department because it is an unhygienic way to treat food. Moreover, it is necessary for the chefs to wear hats and gloves, and be very careful about their own hygiene,” he said.
The official said that chefs were also required to keep the kitchens, pots and utensils clean, but most outlets were not following the directions. He held the Food Department officials concerned responsible for the situation, saying that no grand operation on genuine grounds had been launched and violators were usually not issued tickets.
“The takka takk and sirri paey shops in Lakshmi Chowk are operating on the main road, and the food is not covered, which is in violation of the Punjab Pure Food Ordinance, 1960,” he said, adding that similar situations could be witnessed on Wahdat Road and in Gaddafi Stadium area, Moon Market, Mozang and in Liberty Market.
Workforce: Chief Food Inspector Muhammad Ayub told Daily Times that the department had launched a crackdown on food outlets in Lakshmi Chowk and in all upscale localities of the city. However, he said that it was not possible for the food inspectors to proceed with the violation cases regularly because of the shortage of workers in the department, despite the fact that the inspectors had issued tickets to dozens of hotels and restaurants during the ongoing campaign.
Ayqub said that the officials did not have enough powers to completely eliminate illegal businesses, as the culprits simply paid a minute fine in courts and moved their set up to new locations. He denied the allegations that the Food Department officials were corrupt, saying that the department’s godowns could prove their virtues, where a huge quantity of all kinds of seized adulterated and substandard food had been placed.