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Food authority to ensure provision of safe edibles to consumers

Food authority to ensure provision of safe edibles to consumers

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will establish Food Safety Authority to ensure provision of clean edible items to the people, according to sources.

The implementation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Safety Authority Act, 2012, which has been in limbo for the last three years, seeks to check the sale, manufacturing, packaging and marketing of food items in the province.

The health department has sent a summary to the government for establishment of the Food Safety Authority.

Officials said that additional chief secretary would act as chairman of the authority while 12 others, including secretaries of health, food and livestock and dairy and public health engineering, local government, home and tribal affairs departments, representatives of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry and farmers and food industries, food and nuclear institute would act as members to ensure availability of safe edible items to consumers in the province.

The law has replaced the Food Act, 1960, which has become outdated due to the rapidly changing scenario in the province.

The need for such an Act was desperately felt, especially following the passage of 18th Amendment in 2010, after which the provinces were required to make their own laws, sources said.

They said that penalties under the old law were too lenient due to which it failed to effectively check adulteration of food. In the process, the food and drinks and other stuff caused health problems to the people.

Under the new piece of legislation, the opinion of consumers, retail shopkeepers, businessmen and traders would also be given weight to implement the law for the betterment of the people and save them from consuming contaminated stuff, sources said.

Officials said that the summary, to be approved by the chief minister within a few days, would pave the way for implementation of the law in the province.

The authority was meant to make sure that the consumers got safe and wholesome food, they added.

Officials said that the authority would take care of a range of substances used in composition and preparation of food, flavouring matter or condiment, food colouring and confectionary business.

The government would allocate funds specifically for the authority where surplus staff of the health and other relevant departments would be posted on deputation, they said.

Presently, the government has been taking action against the hotels and eateries through district administration under the consumers’ law but the authority will regulate manufacturing, transportation and sale of food items and violators will be booked in consonance with Food Safety Authority Act, 2012.

“It will be the domain of the authority to put in place a new set of increased penalties so that those selling adulterated food comply with the law and the people get safe food items,” officials said.

According to them, the authority will also check food items imported from Iran, Afghanistan and China etc and will authorise the retailers only after examination of the imported stuff.

Before introduction in market, the entire foodstuff would be examined by the authority which would give go-ahead after thorough scrutiny, using scientific methods, officials said.

They said that the authority would also help the local exporters of food stuff in introducing ways for preservation and prolonging the shelf life of their items. Similarly, it would also help the farmers in preservation of their produce prior to marketing, they said.

Officials said that data about the vegetables, food items and hotels would be collected and a proper registration process would be introduced by the authority that would also be responsible for monitoring and dealing with the labelling, branding, advertising and marketing of food items.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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