Notable Series – PFA Brief Year Ender 2020 -Daily Notable
PFA Brief Year Ender 2020
Punjab Food Authority since its inception has been ensuring the provision of safe and healthy food to the people of Punjab. For this purpose the authority conducts raids, food sampling, inspections, operations, formulates regulations etc for food businesses and manufacturing units.
As the year 2020 marked its end, Firdous Ashiq Awan Special Assistant to Chief Minister Punjab on Information and Broadcasting paid a visit to Punjab Food Authority. Firdous Ashiq Awan along with Chairman Punjab Food Authority and Director General Punjab Food Authority gave a detailed press briefing regarding Authority’s annual performance.
She highly acknowledged the projects being introduced last year by Punjab Food Authority to ensure the provision of safe food to public i.e. mobile milk testing laboratories, free milk testing desk, bike squads and motorway squad. In the year 2020, a total of 110 Food Safety Teams working in field 24 hours a day for Punjab Food Authority has conducted nearly 423,323 inspections against unhealthy and substandard food items during which more than 60% food business operators were issued improvement notices due to poor hygiene conditions. More than 35,000 food business operators were fined worth over 230 million for violating hygiene principles in food preparation. The Food Safety Teams are dedicated law enforcement teams, responsible to have a strong and strict check and balance on all food businesses.
Punjab food Authority scrutinized many food points including the Bike Squad which conducted a total of 7,750 inspections while the Motorway Squad conducted over 1,321 inspections during the past year.
Over 2 million liters sub-standard milk was discarded during Mobile milk testing laboratory inspections, while routine inspections resulted in disposal of about 3.5 million liters of unhealthy milk.
During one year inspections, about 28 kg of unhealthy meat, more than 118 kg of adulterated spices, over 30,152 liters of ghee and oil prepared from impurities, 159,805 liters of low quality water, 29,706 kg of substandard pulses and a total area of 590.38 acres of vegetables grown with sewerage water was destroyed.
Punjab Food Authority conducts search operations on the basis of secret information to eliminate the mafia and counterfeiters. In the last one year, the authority conducted successful raids on about 2500 food business units.
Punjab Food Authority has been working vigilantly to control adulteration mafia in compliance with rigorous punishments like confiscation of items, sealing of premises, discarding substandard food items on spot, fine penalties, inspection and monitoring programs etc.
In the past year major crackdowns were conducted against substandard milk and dairy products, substandard spices, fake carbonated beverages, expired commodities, misleading food labels, quality compromised production units etc.
Punjab Food Authority checks food samples on regular basis on technical and scientific grounds under the supervision of food experts and scientists.
Over the past one year, around 15000 food samples were tested out of which 44% were passed and 54% were failed.
Medical screening teams of Punjab Food Authority also ensure health of food handlers and workers to avoid the spread of contagious diseases through food. In year 2020, blood sample of 58,184 food workers were taken, out of which 92.5% were passed and 7.5% were failed upon diagnosis of various diseases.
PFA has its regulations and is vigilant in regard to labeling and registration regimes. In this concern, 1,600 labels were registered and summaries were approved while over 1,100 food products were registered and checked by Punjab Food Authority.
The department also keenly believes in giving training to food handlers to create a healthy and professional environment. Food safety training has been given to over 28,000 food handlers across the province last year.
Punjab Food Authority stamps food business operators to deal in market as well by issuing license to them. Only those standardized food businesses are allowed to operate in market which are licensed from Punjab Food Authority.
In the year 2020, around 1 lac 50 thousands old and new license applications were processed and only standardized food businesses are allowed to operate in the market
Punjab Food Authority has a very integrated IT and Monitoring system. It not only maintains official website of the authority but also plays main role in the maintenance of E-records and has brought digital reforms in the system.
Timely redressal of consumer issues and grievances are also ensured in all respects. 22,342 complaints were received through the Punjab Food Authority Complaints Portal out of which about 99.4% complaints have been resolved while only 0.6% complaints are under process and will be resolved soon.
As far as the legal matters are concerned the legal team of Punjab Food Authority handles them not only timely but efficiently. In the past year 8,923 cases were resolved against which 266 million worth rupees of fine were charged.
In order to bridge the gap between public and the authority, multiple communication channels are used. Social media, print media and electronic media is involved regularly for transmission of information and to create awareness among the public regarding food safety and hygiene.
Celebrities and social media influencers are engaged for opinion building against adulteration mafia. Moreover, awareness camps, seminars, advertisement and public service messaged are issued on food based topics for general public.
At the end of press briefing, Firdous Ashiq Awan appreciated Punjab Food Authority for working round the clock against adulteration mafia and strictly monitoring the food supply chains ranging from small vendors to luxury hotels. She ensured the Government of Punjab along with the respective authority will leave no stone unturned in order to eradicate adulteration from province and make Punjab adulteration free.