PSQCA mark on food items

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Quality of food items has always been a serious issue in Pakistan in the absence of any strict regulatory framework. Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority was established in 2000 with the objective of fostering and promoting standards and conformity assessment as a means of advancing national economy, promoting industrial efficiency and development ensuring health and safety of the public, protecting consumers, facilitating domestic and international trade and furthering international cooperation relation to standards and conformity assessment. However, there is hardly any tangible progress towards enforcement of the standards especially in respect of food items and as a result consumers suffer.
Latest reports indicate that PSQCA has declared standards as mandatory for over two dozen food items including bottled water, edible oil, vanaspati ghee, biscuit, juices, butter, milk, infant milk and honey. Adulteration and production of substandard food items has assumed dangerous proportions and one can hardly find a pure and genuine item and as a result people are inflicted with various kinds of diseases. Unfortunately, government is spending hugely on health and a fraction of the allocations can help prevent spread of various diseases if there is proper and effective enforcement of quality and standards. No doubt, the PSQCA has developed necessary standards and declared them mandatory for various items but the real question is that of enforcement and prompt punishment for violators. It is understandable that the Authority has no capacity to enforce these standards throughout the country. It can, at best, collect samples, analyse them and prepare reports indicating compliance or violation by the manufacturer but has no means to take action or force the violators to comply. It is duty of Federal and Provincial governments but unfortunately their relevant institutions and authorities are totally unconcerned and oblivious of the ground situation whereas there should be zero tolerance for this horrendous crime, which is taking a heavy toll of people’s health.