LAHORE: The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) has chosen to compromise on the health care of the citizens by ignoring the business of perishable food items being sold in open and packed form without displaying the manufacturing and expiry dates.

The Food Department was empowered through amendments to the Pure Food Rules last year to clamp down on the mafia manufacturing bakery products and sweets in unhygienic conditions, but very little has so far been done to implement the rules.

A number of cases of food poisoning due to expired food items sold in the market have been reported. The major places of the city where unhygienic and ‘expired’ food is sold are Gawalmandi, Taxali, Anarkali, Lakshmi Chowk, Lahore Hotel Chowk, Macleod Road, Gulberg, Model Town, Garden Town and Shadman. The large number of eateries in these areas have been reported to sell food without much concern for its freshness.

The offenders can be punished by up to three years of imprisonment and Rs 0.1 million fine according to the degree of the violation, and their outlets can also be closed under some conditions.

The new rules made it compulsory for all food manufacturers to mention the manufacturing and expiry dates on their products. The rules empowered food inspectors to ensure that every eatery owner abides by the basic hygiene requirements and prepare the food in a covered and clean area. The inspectors are also empowered to ensure that the material used in preparing the food items meets standards.

Chief Food Inspector Muhammad Ayub told Daily Times that the Food Department had already started action against those involved in the business of selling substandard food items.

He said his department – consisting of nine food inspectors for Lahore and other staff – would ensure the supply of quality food items to the citizens during the coming holy month of Ramzan.

One month: Ayub said the owners of bakeries and restaurants selling packed food items had asked the government for a one-month time limit to ensure that the manufacturing and expiry dates were mentioned on the packages.He said the owners would face stern action after one month if they failed to mention the dates on the food items. Ayub said those selling sweets all over the city would also be subject to the law and would also be penalised for not mentioning the dates.

The amendments to the Pure Food Rules were announced on September 18, 2008, and enabled the inspectors to check 312 food items as compared to the 106 they could previously check. They were also given powers to conduct the chemical and pathological analysis of samples collected from eateries.

The hotel owners were instructed to clean their cooking utensils according to the proper standards and boil the utensils to kill deadly germs that cause typhoid, hepatitis and other stomach diseases. The amended rules also banned bottles and containers used to serve cold drinks from being used more than once.

Source: Daily Times