LAHORE: Hearing a suo motu case against sale of substandard bottled water, the Supreme Court has ordered the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) to keep the companies shut if they do not meet the standards set by the authority.

PFA Director General Noorul Amin Mengal informed the court on Saturday that 1,150 companies of bottled water were registered in the province. Of them 1,053 companies were functional while 97 were already closed.

He said 578 companies had passed the tests while 34 were closed after they failed to meet the criteria. Results of 135 companies were still in waiting, he added.

At this, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed him to keep the companies closed till they did not meet the standards of the authority. He also showed displeasure over non-appearance of court-appointed commission Advocate Mustafa Ramday and asked Advocate General Punjab Shakilur Rehman Khan to make him appear. However, the law officer told the bench that Mr Ramday was out of country. The hearing was adjourned until March 8.

POULTRY: Acting vice chancellor of University of Health Sciences Prof Dr Faisal Masood told the Supreme Court that no contamination was found in the samples of broiler chicken’s meat randomly taken from different parts of Lahore.

He stated that the problem was with the unhygienic handling of the meat by chicken sellers and added that the meat was not contaminated.

When asked about the steps taken regarding cleanliness at chicken selling shops, PFA DG Mengal said strict action had been taken to this effect.

The CJ adjourned the hearing till March 9 and also directed the chief secretary to ensure Dr Masood was not transferred to any other post as the court needed his expertise in such cases. A committee, comprising advocates Salman Akram Raja and Uzair Bhandari, would submit a report on the test carried out of the poultry feed. The bench would discuss that report on the next hearing.

FORMULA MILK: The Supreme Court rejected a request of a lawyer of a formula milk manufacturing company for withdrawing condition of printing “it is not natural milk” on its product.

Salman Aslam Butt advocate appeared on behalf of Nestle Milk and requested the court to wave the condition. He said the company had been following all international and local standards for producing its formula milk (Lactogen) for the children up to six months.

He said the infants could not digest milk of buffaloes and the formula milk was necessary for them. He said the PFA rules were also being followed by the company.

However, the chief justice observed that the court was not bound to follow the rules of the food authority. He said the milk was a great blessing of Allah and if manufacturing companies were not ready to print ‘it is not natural milk’ on their products the court could ban their production.

The bench adjourned hearing till March 8 and also summoned chief executive officer of Meiji formula milk.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2018