LAHORE: Businesses dealing in food sector have proposed for setting up of a “supervisory board” having representation of all stakeholders under the umbrella of the federal food ministry to develop uniform standards for the whole country and to create a win-win situation for the industry, consumers and the government.
Industry/chambers, food expert or technocrats, PCSIR and civil bureaucrats should be given equal representation on the proposed food authority supervisory board to take steps for ensuring delivery of pure, quality and hygienic food to the consumers.
Proposing this, Pakistan FMCG Importers Association’s central leader and convener LCCI Standing Committee on FMCG Sector, Muhammad Ejaz Tanveer, said no doubt governments around the world set up food authorities to improve the quality of food sold in their respective societies. However, he claimed that objectives in Pakistan are not being achieved for setting up these authorities due to numerous reasons.
In his opinion, cleanliness, purity and full weight are given much importance in human morality and these can be ensured only through an institution and food authority is the institution which can ensure these conditions.
However, he said after the 18th amendment, the food authority is controlled by the provincial government. Unfortunately, standards and SOPs of all the four provincial food authorities are different to each other causing difficulties for the industry. Standard of food quality should be the same across the country so that all the customers get the same quality food from one end of the country to the other.
The Pakistan Standard Quality Control and PCSIR, a federal government agency, should work with the provincial food authorities, industry and federation of chambers to formulate a “national standard” to ensure that customers across the country are not affected.
The same standard should be met as it will be easy for the industry to maintain the same standard. Obviously, the food industry cannot comply with four different laws in one country.
Similarly, to run the authorities in a professional manner, Ejaz said the industry is of the view that an expert and educated food technologist with at least five years of experience working in the industry should be the head of the food authority to implement the laws step by step in view of the difficulties of the ground realities of the industry.
Ejaz further said that junior officers unfamiliar with industry culture adopt a domineering attitude and treat the industry like a criminal, which is not a way to reform.
The right of defense is a fundamental right in every society and law. If the food authority officer accuses you or challan you, then the industry has the right to present evidence and arguments in its defense before a neutral body. Unfortunately, there is no neutral justice body in the food authorities. Rather, the food authority officers themselves are the plaintiffs and the judges which is not fair, he added.
To improve the system and the working of the industry, LCCI Standing Committee convener also proposed for registration of an industry instead of products, honoring the taxpayer businesses, giving yearly awards for best food industry and industrial practices etc.
“We propose to form a Central National Food Industry Research Council comprising of all food authorities. The R&D fund should be raised annually from the industry and this money should be spent on R&D only with honesty and transparency”, Ejaz Tanveer concluded.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022