In Punjab, Pakistan, food safety is regulated under the Punjab Food Authority Act, 2011 and Punjab Pure Food Rules. The Punjab Pure Food rules cover 104 items falling under nine broad categories which are as follows:
- Dairy & Dairy Products
- Edible Oil & Fat Products
- Food Grains & Cereals
- Starchy Food
- Spices & Condiments
- Sweetening Agents
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Miscellaneous Food Products
These regulations address purity issues in raw food and deal with:
- Food Colors
- Heavy Metals
In addition, similar provisions exist in other provinces under the respective legislation province relating to food safety. The Government of Pakistan has also prescribed certain standards through Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) that are mandatory to follow by the manufacturers of food and food grade materials. These standards are aligned with Codex Alimentarius Commission and traceable with WHO. The mandatory 37 food products are as follows:
- Apple Juice
- Banaspati Ghee
- Biscuits (Excluding Wafer Biscuits)
- Carbonated Beverages
- Bottled Drinking Water
- Cooking Oil (Blended)
- Cotton Seed Oil Cake Expeller Type
- Chili Powder
- Concentrated Fruit Juice
- Condensed Milk
- Curry Powder
- Edible Sesame Seed Oil
- Food for Infants and Children
- Flavored Milk
- Fruit Squash
- Iodized Salt
- Jams ( Fruit preserve ) & Jellies
- Milk Powder (whole and Skim)
- Natural Mineral Water
- Orange Juice
- Palm oil (Edible grade for cooking purposes)
- Refined Coconut Oil
- Refined Cotton Seed Oil
- Refined Maize Corn Oil
- Refined Mustard Oil
- Refined Soya bean Oil
- Refined Sunflower Oil
- Refine Sugar & White Sugar
- Synthetic Vinegar
- Tea Black
- Wafers Biscuits
- Packaged Liquid Milk
There are certain food safety requirements in Pakistan which are broadly categorized in two main categories:
1. Food Premises & Machinery Safety Requirements in Pakistan
There are many factors which food processing businesses need to consider when ensuring food safety for consumers. Following are 10 critical areas of focus as prescribed in BRC Global Standards that will help you to ensure that food safety is applied to your business prescribed:
- Facilities Location & Design
The design and location of a food processing facility in Pakistan needs to be carefully taken into account. Areas that are known to be pest “hot spots” as well as prone to pollution need to be avoided to reduce the risk of contamination. The production site should be of suitable size, location and construction, and be maintained to reduce the risk of contamination and facilitate the production of safe and hygienic finished products. Materials used for the internal structure of buildings should be durable, prevent buildup of dirt, easy to clean and maintain, and safe for staff.
- Machinery & Production Line Design
The layout of the production line should allow easy maintenance and cleaning of machinery and surrounds and prevent contamination of the food products and ingredients during the production process. The design of machinery used for food processing also has to be taken into account to comply with food safety regulations. Poor design can result in build-up of food material in hidden places that are difficult to clean.
The list of 10 principles of sanitary design for food safety in Pakistan as per international standards are:
- Cleanable to a microbiological level
- Made of compatible materials
- Accessible for inspection, maintenance, cleaning and sanitation
- No product or liquid collection
- Hollow areas hermetically sealed
- No niches
- Sanitary operational performance
- Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures
- Hygienic compatibility with other plant systems
- Validate cleaning and sanitizing protocols
- Pest Control
Pest control plays an important part in food safety. Troublesome insects such as cockroaches and flies can spread food-borne diseases by contaminating food at any stage of production. Rodents also spread diseases as well as causing damage to buildings, fixtures and machinery. Stored product insects can damage and contaminate food during transport and storage. Investing in pest control monitoring and detection can help prevent pests from entering a food processing establishment, assisting in the compliance of food safety.
- Waste Management
Provide appropriate containers and suitable waste storage areas. Establish adequate procedures for the storage and removal of waste. This prevents build-up of waste and pests and reduces risk of contamination of ingredients, equipment and products.
Establish cleaning and disinfection programs to ensure the correct hygiene standards are met and reduce the risk of a foodborne illness outbreak. This includes properly cleaning and disinfecting food preparation areas as well as machinery and utensils used within the food processing cycle to eliminate the microorganisms that cause food poisoning. Adhering to the correct cleaning processes will also reduce the risk of pests such as rodents, flies and cockroaches in food preparation and processing areas by removing potential food sources and insect breeding sites.
Establishing proactive maintenance measures for premises and food processing machinery to ensure they run smoothly and properly, and ensures the production of safe foods. Pests such as rats and mice can affect the way in which machines perform, gnawing at the power cables and contaminating the components that have direct contact with the products.
- Personal hygiene
Installing the correct facilities for staff to ensure proper personal hygiene is met which contributes towards meeting food safety requirements. Following factors must be considered to ensure personal hygiene:
- Hand Washing: ensure that effective hand washing techniques are followed at appropriate times.
- Minimize hand contact with food: try to minimize direct hand contact with raw food by using appropriate utensils and safe use of disposable gloves.
- Personal cleanliness: cover hair; do not sneeze or cough over food; cover cuts and sores; and do not wear jewelry.
- Wear protective clothing: wear suitable clean protective clothing and handle appropriately to prevent cross contamination.
- Exclude ill staff: staff must report illnesses; exclude staff with vomiting or diarrhea.
- Environmental Hygiene
Food processing facilities rely on the use of potentially dangerous chemicals for sanitation and pest control. Because of this attention has to be applied to reduce the risk of accidental environmental contamination during the food processing cycle. Food safety practices need to be applied to ensure the chemicals stored and used on food processing premises do not contaminate the food products at any stage in production.
- Correct handling, Storage & Transport
On top of food production and preparation, food safety also has to be applied during handling, storage and transportation, for both incoming deliveries and products going out to customers. A range of factors needs to be considered during these stages to ensure food products do not become contaminated. Temperature and humidity, hygiene of vehicles, containers and packaging, and even cyber security are all factors which need to consider during these stages of the food supply chain.
- Staff training
Educating staff on how to ensure food safety practices are followed will help reduce the risk of contamination. Regulations require that food handlers are supervised and trained in food hygiene practices suitable for their work activity. Areas which staff should be trained about include:
- Hand hygiene
- Safe food storage practices
- Safe food handling practices
- Cleaning for food safety
- Pest control
2. Food Processing Safety Requirements in Pakistan
Apart from the above general globally prescribed requirements, there are certain requirements presented in Pure Food Rules, 2011 applicable in Pakistan to ensure safe and hygienic processing of food and related products. Some of the important
Requirements are as follows:
- Food additives: the addition to any article of food of any food additive in contravention to the ones prescribed in Pure Food Rules, 2011 is prohibited. Natural color used in food shall be pure, free from extraneous matter and adulterants.
- Preservatives: the use of preservative or preservatives shall be restricted to the limit up to which the use of such preservative or preservatives is permitted for the food or groups of food contained in such mixture as prescribed in Pure Food rules.
- Flavoring: The addition to any article of food of any flavoring agent, which is not permitted in the Pure Food Rules, 2011 shall be deemed illegal. No food shall contain any flavoring agent, which are by themselves toxic or contain contaminant materials which are toxic.
- Antioxidants: the anti-oxidants permitted in Pure Food Rules may be used in permitted flavoring agents in concentration not exceeding 0.01 percent.
- The machinery and equipment: used in the process of manufacturing should be of food grade material and in good sanitary condition and shall not be in such state which is likely to affect the quality of food or make it harmful to consume.
- Covering: Every vessel containing the food or ingredients for manufacturing of food shall be covered all the time with the tight fitting cover, lid or gauze in order to protect the food from dirt, flies and insects etc. and should be kept in a safe place away from impure air and harmful gasses.
- Packaging: All the wrappers, containers and packaging material should be of food grade material which will not contaminate the food or make it harmful.
List of Accredited Bodies for Food Safety in Pakistan
Following are the major accredited bodies:
- Bureau Veritas Certification (BV Certification)
- SGS Pakistan (Pvt.) Limited, Systems and Servicer Certification
- Moody International (Pvt.) Limited
- Pakistan Systems Registrar
- RICCI Pakistan
- CeSP (Certification Services Pakistan)