LAHORE    -   Punjab Food Authority (PFA) has been functioning as an active agency in all 36 districts of Punjab province since July 2012 to enforce food hygiene and quality standards. 

Equipped with qualified teams of food safety officers, the food authority has been striving to ensure quality of food for the last 10 years. Punjab Chief Minister Ch Parvez Elahi has entrusted the task of ensuring quality standards to an energetic member of the Assembly Muhammad Ali Raza Khan Khakwani. Ali who is new chairman of the food authority. He is a young, enthusiastic legislator from Vehari. 

In an interview with The Nation, chairman PFA expressed his resolve to ensure transparency in the field operations and other functions of the authority.

He assured he will do his best to provide quality food to the citizens. “I will offer my duties as custodian of the company with utmost responsibility, honesty and determination as per the vision of my leadership, Imran Khan and CM Punjab”, he said. 

The Nation asked questions about his responsibilities as chairman PFA and the challenges he would be facing to fulfil them.  Q- How will you prevent Milk adulteration which is a very serious issue as it is directly related to the health of the masses?

Answer: Dairy safety teams of the PFA have been taking indiscriminate action against milk adulteration to control this wicked practice. The PFA is also doing work on a milk pasteurization law which would be enforced in Punjab very soon. Further, PFA has launched a free milk-testing facility at the doorsteps of the citizens. 

Q-, Many private milk collectors are fined and their centres are sealed but still they find a way to reopen milk centres within days by bribing the offi-cials. Do you have any plans to counter these corrupt practices?

Answer: PFA teams comprising a food safety officer, assistant food safety of-ficer and an assistant take action against food points to ensure transparen-cy. The provincial food regulatory body also installed the shoulder-mounted devices, known as body cams in uniforms of PFA field teams (food safety teams) to ‘keep all parties honest’. 

The social media platforms and doors of PFA are open for the general public and they can easily register complaints. 

Q-, Will you try to ensure the punishment through law against culprits who are found guilty of adulterating food, milk, ingredients and other Consuming items?

Answer-Punjab Food Authority not only imposes fine and emergency prohibition orders on food points but also confiscates the adulterated items along with equipment besides registering cases against the food business operators (vio-lators) as per law. While the team of PFA Legal Wing pursues it in courts to punish the culprits. 

Q-What positive new initiative will you launch as chairman PFA?

Answer: PFA believes in bringing reforms and changes with passage of time. In this context, PFA has already taken several initiatives which are near to ac-complishment and PFA will continue to make progressive initiatives. PFA is going to launch its first-ever non-commercial FM Radio for the counseling of the general public. PFA is also ready to launch a Star Rating Programme in this month (September) as per international standards to determine facilities being provided at hotels and restaurants in Punjab. 

The purpose of this pilot project is to motivate and support the restaurant industry in order to provide good quality food and service to customers. Fur-ther, this programme will help to evaluate eateries on efforts to promote safe, healthy and high-quality food. 

Moreover, new laws will be carefully aligned with existing laws that were en-acted in response to an earlier problem because PFA firmly believes in adapt-ing functionality methods as per modern trends and needs. The PFA is aimed to strengthen and up-grade the existing laboratories as per international stand-ards. Because, food laboratories play a key role in food sample testing. Sci-ence and technology is one of the most important aspects of a viable infra-structure in any organization.

Q-Will you  launch an awareness campaign regarding the importance of Food se-curity and hygiene?

Answer: PFA is expanding the public awareness projects on the special direc-tives of Punjab CM.

Currently, PFA has been giving awareness to the general public on a massive scale through different mediums including social media platforms, electronic media and print media as well as to organize awareness seminars/ nutritious camps in different educational institutions and other organizations. A team of PFA nutrition experts provide free of cost consultancy to visitors about the role of nutritional management and hygiene.

 Q- How would you ensure the proper implementation of cleanliness and hygiene SOPs in restaurants, bakeries and milk collection centres?

Answer: PFA’s teams pay surprise visits to food points in their assigned are-as to ensure the implementation of Punjab Pure Food Regulations. They thor-oughly inspect the food quality, hygiene and food safety standards to ensure the provision of healthy and safe food in the market.