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Hygiene main issue at food outlets

August 02, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Aug 2: Due to neglect from the health department, food shops in the garrison city are failing to keep their shops neat and clean, often leaving food dishes uncovered at their roadside stalls during the month of Ramazan.

According to the health department’s instructions, food outlet shopkeepers are supposed to keep their shops clean, and ensure that all food items are covered properly. But, the shopkeepers at Raja Bazaar, Kartarpura, Banni Chowk, Sarafa Bazaar, Benazir Bhutto Road, Kashmiri Bazaar, and other markets, are seen openly selling edibles at roadsides.

Owners of meat shops and bakeries are displaying meat and sweets without covering them, which is contrary to health officials’ claims that food inspectors are making regular visits to markets to ensure the law is not being violated.

Nowadays, dates are flashing everywhere, covered in flies, especially at Ramazan Bazaars.

More than 500 patients are sent to three allied hospitals on a daily basis due to stomach-related diseases, normally not too long after ‘Iftaar,’ the time when those who observe Ramazan and refrain from eating throughout the day, break their fast. Many patients admitted that they had purchased their food from the bazaars.

“I brought Pakora and Samosa from the bazaar, and after eating it for Iftaar, my child became ill,” said Muhammad Nisar, at Holy Family Hospital.

He also complained that the water being supplied to Mohanpura was contaminated. He said that they boiled the water before using it but sometimes the children drink water directly from taps.

Another patient, Mohammad Nazir, said that he had not been feeling well for last two days, and was suffering from vomiting and loose motions. He said that the doctors had advised him to avoid excess consumption of fried food items.

Dr Nadeem Malik of Holy Family Hospital (HFH) said that more than 100 patients are brought to the hospital’s emergency department every day. He said that the main cause of their disease was using the food from the roadside stalls.

He advised the shopkeepers to implement the health department’s precautions, and cover the food items properly, because during the summer season there was an increase in the number of flies whizzing around, and people would suffer from cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, swelling at stomach and other diseases.

When contacted, District Officer Health (Urban Areas) Dr. Ansar Ishaq said that the health department was taking a number of steps and had launched a campaign against those shopkeepers who were selling food items without taking the necessary safety measures.

Dr Ishaq also said that the department had formed special teams to inspect markets for Ramazan and, so far, had collected more than 340 samples from different markets in the city and issued 38 challans to the violators.

He reported that the samples have been dispatched to Lahore for a laboratory test, and the report would arrive soon. He stated that the health department would take action against the violators once the laboratory examination report of the food items arrived.