LAHORE: Food manufacturers and outlets have been sandwiched between the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) as both provincial and federal authorities claim their jurisdiction on them.

One of the food business operators seeking anonymity told Dawn that he had got a license from the PFA five years ago and had been paying its annual fee on time since then.

He said that PSQCA teams had been raiding their outlets for the last six months.

“Though I told the PSQCA teams that all of my food outlets are registered with the PFA, but they’ve told me to get the business registration with them,” he said.

He said he had contacted the PFA authorities only to hear that vtheir authority was the legitimate body to conduct raids and allow or ban any food items.

He said he had some challans of the PSQCA but did not know what to do with them.

Recently, a PSQCA spokesman had issued a press release that they had sealed different food outlets and bottled water companies in Punjab for their failure to present licenses.

On Friday, the PFA issued a public notice for the food business operators about its jurisdiction. The notice available with Dawn states that no federal department is allowed to register any food related business after the concurrent legislative list was abolished under the 18th Amendment.

A spokesperson for the PFA said they had issued a notice to all food operators that nobody could take action against the food industry and issue food license in the province expect the PFA.

The spokesperson said the Supreme Court had tasked the PFA with taking action against water and other food issues in last few months which strengthened their status as being the only food regulatory authority in the province.

On a petition moved by a food outlet, the Lahore High Court had restrained the PSQCA from taking action against food business.

PSQCA Deputy Director Asghar Ali told Dawn that they could raid and issue license to any food outlet in the country, including Punjab.

He said they could check import and export business of processed and packaged food items.

Lawyer Azhar Siddique said that the PSQCA could not raid in Punjab for it did not fall under its jurisdiction after the passage of the 18th Amendment.

He said the provincial government had its own regulatory authority that could take action and issue license to any food outlet or business.

He said the federal department only could check the material and issue license being imported and exported.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2018