Eateries in metropolis become a house of diseases


LAHORE: Residents of the provincial capital, Lahore are at a risk of falling prey to water-borne diseases because of the numerous roadside eateries and food points that are selling unhygienic food at large, Pakistan Today has observed on Tuesday.

Although the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) looks busy in taking action against famous food chains, supply units and companies but it seems that stern action against such eateries is not the priority of the authorities.

According to the medics, unhygienic food offered at eateries is causing contagious diseases like typhoid, cholera and gastroenteritis to the residents, making a mockery of the tall claims by authorities for taking strict action against sub-standard food sellers.

While passing through the city, one can see food points and vendors busy in selling food items like shawarma, pakora, samosa, kabab, burger, haleem, rice, dahi bhallay and more where they take very little care of the cleanliness and quality of food. Such points are present at various locations in the city like schools, hospitals, markets, plazas, government and private offices where thousands of people enjoy eating without any fear of worrisome consequences on their health.

It has been observed that such food items are not just unhygienic but due to their location near roadsides, the smoke and dust also mixes up with food which makes the food even more dangerous.

Most of the eateries use contaminated water supplied by WASA for cooking and washing. The areas where they serve are often surrounded by flies and garbage. While the food at almost all the points can be seen uncovered, the health conditions of food handlers are also troublesome as most of them are suffering from different diseases themselves.

According to a recent medical report of Punjab Food Authority (PFA), a great number of handlers working at the food points were directly or indirectly affected by different diseases. This also indicated that due to the consumption of unhygienic food and lack of cleanliness at the food points, the number of hepatitis patients is growing rapidly in Lahore.

The PFA rules state that any person who engages with the business of handling food in any way must have a health certificate.

Nonetheless, the majority of food handlers, including servers, waiters, cooks, kitchen assistants and delivery persons, working at roadside food points and roadside hotels have not screened themselves.

Senior general physician, Dr Rauf Ahmad while talking to Pakistan Today said that open food being sold at roadsides of the city were the major source of spreading diseases like hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis.

A spokesman for PFA while talking to Pakistan Today said that the department was fully committed to ensuring safe food for every citizen and it has conducted several raids against the violators.

He said that currently more than 40,000 of food points have been registered while the department has started training roadside food sellers.

However, he admitted that a large number of roadside eateries were still involved in selling unhygienic food. The spokesman said that until July 2018, every food point in the city would be registered while the sale of open food would be completely banned.