‘No leniency’: Punjab Chief Minister orders ‘indiscriminate’ crackdown on food adulteration through Ramadan festival
In a department meeting at the PFA head office earlier this week, Sardar described food adulterators as ‘not deserving of any leniency’.
“[Although] PFA is already active against food adulteration, [even stricter] implementation of PFA laws [will ensue] during Ramadan-ul-Mubarak,” he told local media.
PFA Director-General Captain (R) Muhammad Usman Younas has already prepared for such an initiative, having directed PFA officers and heads of the various departments to prepare round-the-clock duty schedules in preparation for Ramadan, which begins on May 5.
Additionally, special teams to monitor for ‘suspicious activities’ during the sehri (pre-dawn meal before starting fast) and iftar (evening meal after breaking fast) timings will be formed.
“The teams will [also] visit the Ramadan bazaars and all food points [to conduct thorough inspections],” said Muhammad Usman.
“All [adulterators of food products] will be dealt with an iron hand.”
Punjab pasteurisation policy
During the meeting, Sardar was also briefed on the upcoming pasteurisation policy to be enforced by PFA in Punjab.
The policy is now in its final stages of preparation, along with what looks set to be a ban on the sale of loose milk
According to PFA, the policy is expected to ‘help authorities meet international standards, and to curb the sale of adulterated milk’.
“[We] are elucidating [the policy] to make [sure that it is] also beneficial for small farmers, as well as making comprehensive plans to ensure the provision of [safe and economical milk for consumers],” said Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudry in an official statement.
Muhammad Usman concurred, adding that: “This legislation aims to [stop] adulteration and eradicate [dairy product] forgery from Punjab, [so as to] ensure healthy and safe food in the market.”
Dairy in Punjab
The PFA is well-known for being exceptionally harsh on food adulteration within the province, especially with regards to dairy.
This was further evidenced by a protest by milk sellers earlier this year who insisted that the agency was being biased and there was insufficient evidence to validate the disposal of large quantities of milk that it claimed to be adulterated.
The protests occurred following a crackdown by the PFA where it discarded 18,000 litres of what was allegedly chemically-tainted milk from six vehicles.
Punjab Milk Sellers and Suppliers Association representative Nasser Ahmed said the milk disposal had become a means for PFA to ‘show performance’, and warned that further protests would take place if this continued.
“This is inefficiency of the authority (sic) that even after a lapse of two days it has not come up with a substantial argument to defend its system meant for checking quality of the milk,” he said to The Nation.
“We will come with our buffaloes and other animals to stage a demonstration in front of the PFA offices. The authority is clearly biased against sale of fresh milk and supports multinational packaged milk companies,” he said.
Earlier this year, the PFA had also banned the freezing of milk in regular ice factories that are not specifically licensed to do.