Federal, Punjab food authorities roles overlap

Which authority is empowered to check the quality of food items in Punjab and take action against those marketing substandard stuff?

LAHORE: A tug-of-war is going on the subject between a federal agency-Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and Punjab Food Authority, a provincial agency which is operating in alienation to combat same enemy, the food mafia and apparently have no coordination between two agencies to carry out raids on food businesses in Punjab.

In a latest development, PSQCA seized two illegal food brands taking huge quantity of products into custody the other day. Special task force raided different areas of the city including Kot Lakhpat and Harbanspura and found Dawn Bread was using Pakistan Standard (PS) mark illegally.

According to PSQCA officials, on directions of Federal Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain, Director General Khalid Siddiq ordered the task force to take strict action against illegal brands.

The teams seized huge quantity of prepared stock and barred the company from selling productions. The production unit was preparing rusk, buns, burger buns, paratha bread, bread and cup cakes illegally, according to press release issued by PSQCA.

However, when The Nation contacted Dawn Bread, an official Shehryar said Dawn Bread has continued their operations as per scheduled. “We have showed PSQCA that marking and sampling is operated from Karachi head office and we are going to introduce it from Lahore in future.” he said.

“This is the first time Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) approached to us,” he said. 

On the other hand, the PSQCA team also sealed Dali Foods which was preparing honey, iodized salt, turmeric powder and red chilli without having any PSQCA license.

PSQCA is regulating inspection agencies since 1982 under Inspection Agencies (Registration and Regulation) Rules, and PSQCA’s Act No. VI (1996). In year 2006, PSQCA decided to align its Inspection Agencies Registration criteria with the international standard for registration of inspection Agencies ISO/IEC Standards General criteria for operation of various types of agencies performing inspection’ keeping in view the registration of its Inspection Agencies internationally through MoUs signed by PSQCA with different National Standards Agencies of the World.

On the other hand, according to PFA notice circulated in 2014 by the legal advisors team to the food business operators, PFA asked all the food business operators to register themselves with the Punjab Food Authority according to PFA 2011 Act.

“Other than PFA no provincial or federal institution could register essential commodities in Punjab. According to the Pakistan Constitution and after the 18th amendment, concurrent list has been removed and food business became a provincial subject. PSQCA is not eligible to conduct raids in Punjab,” PA notice reads.

The notice stetted on February 25, 2014, the then Federal Law Secretary in a letter No.92/2014/Law-1 that only provincial government could deal with food business matters.

It is pertinent to mention that PFA cited Lahore High Court writ petition number 21623/2014 case, according to PFA, LHC abstain PSQCA to conduct raids in Punjab.

“Since interim relief has been granted to the petitioner in the above referred writ petition, therefore, the petitioner is also entitled for the same relief. Therefore, respondents No.2 and 4 (PSQCA through DG Deputy Director CA-North PSQCA), are restrained from disturbing the business of the petitioner,”, the notice reads.

The PFA notice reds “Other than Punjab Food Authority no provincial or federal institution could not seal any premises or give any license”.

Sources in PSQCA told The Nation that “Originally there were 109 items or areas where PFA could raid and then it reduced to 77. We are operating in Punjab in accordance with the law,” sources said. 

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