PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Safety and Halal Food Authority on Thursday announced to initiate several actions, including banning eight edibles, to ensure food safety and hygiene.

The functioning of the authority was notified on Wednesday in the provincial capital and divisional headquarters.

Addressing a press conference, the food authority’s director general Riaz Khan Mehsud said that the authority was banning sale of different edibles due to various reasons. He said that a scientific committee including over 20 well-qualified food experts had in a meeting suggested banning several items. He said that some of the items were banned while others were given time for making improvement.

He said that the committee unanimously decided that the sale of carbonated drinks, energy drinks, chips and papad, all hazardous to health, should be banned on the premises of schools and colleges with an immediate effect. He said that this ban would also be extended to universities and other areas, where required.

Sale of gutka, paan, chaalia, choran, naswar also prohibited

Dr Ziaul Haq, a committee member from the Khyber Medical University, said that the varsity would provide scientific evidence for the health hazards of the food commodities.

Mr Mehsud also said that spices should be first checked for the presence of aflatoxins and then banned on that basis. He said that the ban on loose sale of spices, salts, sauces and colorued crackers with a grace period of one year was proposed with mutual agreement. He said that the calcium carbide was cheap and embedded in the whole system so it would take long time to replace it with ethylene or any other ripening agent.

He said that the committee decided that a grace period of two years should be granted and after that its use should be banned. He said that in the meanwhile research projects would be conducted in collaboration with the KP Agriculture Research Institute, Tarnab, NIFA and department of food sciences and technology at the University of Agriculture to identify other possible and cheaper alternatives of calcium carbide.

He also announced a ban on gutka, paan, chaalia, choran, naswar and chewing tobacco in the province as these products were made from harmful, carcinogenic contents. He said that nickel, which is used as catalyst in the process of making banaspati ghee, was injurious to health and hydrogenation process should be modified and complete saturation should be replaced by partial saturation.

Mr Mehsud said that six months would be allowed to all industries to make necessary arrangements regarding the effluents that could be recycled or treated instead of draining them into freshwater courses.

He said that the role of irrigation department and Environmental Protection Agency would be highlighted and strong coordination with them would be ensured. The provincial food authority would write to the industries, irrigation and agriculture departments for adherence to non-contaminating disposal systems.

The authority’s director general said that the standards already being developed by PSQCA and the food authority should be strictly implemented for proper labelling. For this purpose, appropriate labeling regulations have been incorporated into the draft of food safety standards developed for KP, which explained the components of labelling.

He also announced ban on substandard ice-cream and other similar products due to the potential use of non-food grade colours, flavours or any other health hazardous food ingredients.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2018

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