ISLAMABAD: Despite issuance of the mandatory notification by Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), up to 770,000 tonnes of wheat flour is wasted annually in the country due to non-utilisation of the food grade polypropylene laminated sacks.

Pakistan polypropylene woven sack manufacturers have submitted a complaint to the ministry of industries and the prime minister, stating that between three and five per cent wheat flour was wasted annually in the country due to packing in non-laminated bags.

The letter said despite high prices of wheat flour, three to five per cent of it was wasted during handling as the flour leaks through the low quality woven bags.

The manufacturers of laminated bags referred to a study that said up to 0.5 kg flour leaks in the 20 kg bag by the time it reaches the consumers.

Under the calculations, the consumer’s loss amid the 0.5 kg wastage is between Rs20 and Rs30 per bag.

This wastage accounts for 460,000 to 768,000 tonnes and is worth Rs34.56 to Rs57.60 billion per annum. The loss is equivalent to 276,000 to 460,000 hectors of cultivated area.

Say 770,000 tonnes of flour goes to waste annually

“Just by controlling wastage during the transportation and handling, the nation can save a significant quantity of essential food item,” the letter said.

“Since the country is facing a wheat shortage, it is important that we remain efficient in saving as much flour as we can for our under-nourished population as Pakistan is among seven countries that cumulatively account for two-third of the world’s under-nourished population.”

It said the usage of non-food grade wheat flour sacks had also been termed illegal as PSQCA had already issued an SRO in 2017 for mandatory use of food grade, one side laminated and one side woven polypropylene sacks.

The letter referred to the price difference between non-food grade and food grade sacks that is only Rs0.22 per kg of flour.

In many areas, mostly Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, wheat flour and other food commodities are packed in unhygienic secondhand

cement sacks, causing serious illnesses among the consumers, due to the non-implementation of the SRO, it said.

The SRO was issued by the PSQCA on the direction of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad.

The NIH had referred to a World Health Organisation (WHO) directive over unsafe food to the government of Pakistan.

The NIH had stated that recycled cement bags were hazardous to the human health as the meshed cement particles remains in the bags.

Earlier, laminated polypropylene woven sack manufacturers had also asked the Environment Protection Agency to intervene and stop the usage of recycled material that contains exposures to health hazards.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2020

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