PESHAWAR/HARIPUR: The food department on Monday sealed 21 mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for producing substandard ghee and oil.

Officials told Dawn that the province had 25 cooking oil and ghee mills with most of them producing goods not being processed in line with the food safety parameters set by the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA).

They said they collected 46 ghee and cooking oil samples from all industrial units of the province for testing and found 32 of them belonging to 21 mills to be failing to meet the PSQCA standards.

The officials said the samples were unfit for human consumption.

Their lawyer says action to be challenged in court of law

They said the crackdown was carried out as part of the reforms initiated by the food department.

“Authorities collected ghee and cooking oil samples around two weeks ago and sent them to a nationally- and internationally-accredited lab for testing. The crackdown comes in light of the test results,” a senior food official told Dawn.

He said many of the samples that claimed to have different vitamins or other ingredients found to be lacking them.

The official said the sealed industrial units were not properly processing imported cooking oil and were selling unprocessed oil, which was harmful for human health, on the market.

He said that the food department was going to impose heavy fines on those mills in accordance with the law and would unseal them only if their owners produced surety bonds for meeting food safety standards.

The official also said factory owners would have to furnish guarantees about processing stocks in their stores and recall their products from wholesalers.

He said that after those units resumed operation, the department would re-examine the quality of their produce to see if they’re meeting their assurances.

A public notice issued by the food department revealed that ghee and oil samples were collected from factories across the province and sent to the lab for examination.

It added that the lab report declared, “GCP Swat Banaspati, Noor Banaspati, SGM Zalmi Banaspati, Rahim Banaspati, GCP Dargai Banaspati, Areeba Banaspati, Taj Banaspati, Wazir Banaspati, Sher Banaspati, Zoha Cooking Oil, KPK Banaspati, Umra Banaspati, Afzal Banaspati, Karwaan Banaspati, Khyber Zar Banaspati, Zayan Kohinoor Banaspati, Maan Pasand Banaspati, Kohsaar Banaspati, Khushboo Banaspati, Mujahid Banaspati, Shahbaz Kohinoor Banaspati, Hassan Banaspati, Karwan Banaspati, Gulab Banaspati, Alam Banaspati, Mohmand Banaspati, Markhor Banaspatiand, Rahat banaspati, Chashma Banaspati, Khadim Banaspati, Sakoon Banaspati and Millat Banaspati are found to be below standards.”

The notice read that those products were unfit for human consumption until they underwent proper processing and once the refining process was ensured, another public notice might be given.

Also in the day, the Halal Food Authority and Haripur district administration, in a joint action, sealed five food industries of Hattar Economic Zone for not complying with food laws.

Those factories manufactured cooking oil with an “unsatisfactory ingredient of free fatty acid and non-observance of Halal Food Authority rules,” according to officials.

The office of deputy commissioner Khan Mohammad confirmed the action.

It said a team headed by provincial director (food operation) Akhtar Nawaz, HFA Haripur assistant director Rukiya Nawaz and Khanpur assistant commissioner Mohammad Faraz Qureshi visited the Hafeez Iqbal Oil and Ghee Industry, AK Oil & Ghee Industry, Latif Oil & Ghee Industry, Platinum Agro Oil & Ghee Industry and Fauji Banaspati premises and sealed filing and storage rooms of those mills along with the “marketable stock.”

Acting on the orders for sealing oil and ghee factories, a copy of which are available with Dawn, the HFA collected samples of products from those premises and sent them to the lab for testing.

However, it wasn’t known when the samples were collected.

The lab examination declared those samples to be carrying “unsatisfactory quantity of free fatty acid against the prescribed quantity” under food laws.

The authority also insisted that mills didn’t follow its laws.

Javed Qureshi, the lawyer for sealed mills, confirmed the crackdown but declared it uncalled-far.

He said he would take the HFA and district administration to the court as their action gave a bad name to his well-reputed clients and led to the suspension of oil and ghee manufacturing threatening the livelihood of hundreds of workers.

Meanwhile, general secretary of the Hattar Economic Zone Association Safeer Akhtar Awan “condemned” the sealing of factories claiming the action was taken without the issuance of prior notice or intimation to mills.

He said at a time when the economy was in bad shape, the crackdown on industrial units would discourage manufacturers and further investments.

Mr Awan claimed the HFA collected ghee and oil samples last Dec but didn’t share the lab report with mills – an illegal act.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2024

Opinion

Budgeting without people

Budgeting without people

Even though the economy is a critical issue, discussions about it involve a select few who are not really interested in communicating with the people.

Editorial

Iranian tragedy
Updated 21 May, 2024

Iranian tragedy

Due to Iran’s regional and geopolitical influence, the world will be watching the power transition carefully.
Circular debt woes
21 May, 2024

Circular debt woes

THE alleged corruption and ineptitude of the country’s power bureaucracy is proving very costly. New official data...
Reproductive health
21 May, 2024

Reproductive health

IT is naïve to imagine that reproductive healthcare counts in Pakistan, where women from low-income groups and ...
Wheat price crash
Updated 20 May, 2024

Wheat price crash

What the government has done to Punjab’s smallholder wheat growers by staying out of the market amid crashing prices is deplorable.
Afghan corruption
20 May, 2024

Afghan corruption

AMONGST the reasons that the Afghan Taliban marched into Kabul in August 2021 without any resistance to speak of ...
Volleyball triumph
20 May, 2024

Volleyball triumph

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland,...