The Punjab Food Authority has been established under the “Punjab Food Authority Act 2011” to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The basic purpose is to lay out standards for food articles and to regulate their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import. Its main functions are:
- Formulate standards, procedures, processes, and guidelines in relation to any aspect of food including food business, food labelling, food additive, and specify appropriate enforcement systems.
- Specify procedures and guidelines for setting up and accreditation of food laboratories
- Formulate method of sampling, analysis of samples and reporting of results
- Specify licensing, prohibition orders, recall procedures, improvement notices or prosecution
- Provide scientific advice and technical support to the Government in matters related to food.
- Collect and analyze relevant scientific and technical data relating to food.
- Establish a system of network of food operators and consumers to facilitate food safety and quality control
- Organize training programs in food safety and standards.
- Promote general awareness as to food safety and standards.
- Registration, licensing and other services.
- Certify food for export
Lahore is the first notified district that comes under the operational jurisdiction of the Punjab Food Authority. It is now expanded to whole of the Punjab. A variety of enforcement tools have been discussed in the Act, 2011 such as:
- Improvement notice
- Imposition of fine through ticketing
- Seizure of food items
- Sealing of premises
- Prosecution in the courts of law
- Emergency prohibition orders, under section
- Recall a substandard food item
Food Surveillance in Punjab
It involves surveillance of all the steps involved in the manufacturing, transportation, storage and marketing of food items. International best practices are adopted in order to ensure trace-ability of raw material as well as the finished products.
- Transportation and storage under adequate environment and controlled conditions, is also part of the food safety regime.
- On Spot Testing Through Rapid Testing Kits
- To check the quality of food items through “on the spot kits”.
- Kits are used to detect various adulterants in milk, spices, tomato ketchup and also rancidity in cooking oil and ghee
- Instead of archaic practice of drawing samples across the board, the field teams draw samples of only those food products and send them to the laboratory, which fail to pass the rapid testing tests.
- Raids at Entry Points of Lahore
- During the milk raids rapid tests are applied to check the possible adulteration of milk with water, urea, formalin, detergents and starch. Samples of only those vehicles had been drawn and sent to the laboratory, which had failed to pass rapid testing.
- Shops / Road Side Vendors
- Rectifications —- by way of issuing improvement notices.
- The field teams issue guidance on food safety and personal hygiene to these vendors.