PHOTO: FILE ISLAMABAD: With some health authorities of the view that reusing old newspapers and magazines to pack foodstuff a health hazard, owing to the presence of toxic ink on the paper, a food safety bill has been pending in parliament to outlaw the popular practice. The law, The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Food Safety Act-2018,…
ISLAMABAD: With some health authorities of the view that reusing old newspapers and magazines to pack foodstuff a health hazard, owing to the presence of toxic ink on the paper, a food safety bill has been pending in parliament to outlaw the popular practice.
The law, The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Food Safety Act-2018, has been drafted by ICT Administration. It is currently under deliberation in a parliamentary committee.
The basic objective of the bill is to keep an effective check on the provision of food items in envelopes made of newspapers.
The current food law, the Pure Food Ordinance from 1960, does not ascribe any punishment for this practice, which is common amongst shopkeepers in the federal capital.
Even though the ICT’s health department contends that such a practice is harmful to the health of those consuming such foodstuff, an official in the department conceded that at the moment no research study was available which links the ink used in newspapers having severe health impacts such as cancer.
However, the official went on to claim that it could lead to other diseases such as diarrhoea, vomiting, acute respiratory infection and some types of hepatitis, including A and E.
The official said that they strictly enforce quality control through a vigorous campaign, including on-the-spot physical checking and inspections of restaurants by the authorised officers of concerned ICT department, along with food Inspectors accompanied by magistrates and assistant commissioners.
Samples of food and edible are collected for laboratory tests to determine their suitability for human consumption while general hygienic and cleanliness of restaurants is also checked and in case of deficiencies, such restaurants are fined by the magistrate.
Moreover, the official said that the ICT Health and Livestock Departments also carries out an inspection in their respective areas of jurisdictions and responsibility.
Asked about who controls prices of essential food items such as bread milk, yoghurt, vegetable, fruits, and meat, which are listed in the schedule of Prices Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act 1977, the official said that they are fixed by the ICT administration.
With regards to other edible items (non-essential ones) provided by restaurants, the official said the law does not authorise them to fix prices of edible items served at restaurants.
The official said that all possible efforts are being made to ensure that the quality of edible items and food products is maintained by restaurants strictly in accordance with the prescribed standard.
This is being ensured through regular and strict inspection and legal action against the violators.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2019.
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