Islamabad will have its own food authority

  • Interior Ministry is all set to send final draft to Cabinet Division

ISLAMABAD: The federal capital will have its own Islamabad Food Authority (IFA) soon as the Ministry of Interior Affairs is all set to send a final draft to the Cabinet Division for final approval.

Currently, the Food Department falls under the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration, is responsible to regulate the business of food including purchases, storage, sales and transfer.

However, IFA will be a separate authority like the Punjab Food Authority and the basic objective is to improve the standard of food being sold in the capital, said Muhammad Afzal Bhagat, the deputy director of the ICT Food Department.

According to the draft, the new authority will have 12 members led by IFA director who will be appointed by the government and the authority will work under the Interior Ministry. The authority will also notify food safety officers (FSO), who will be authorised to draw samples of any food items from the market and these officers will be empowered to seize any food which appears to be in contravention of the law.

Similarly, the IFA members will be representatives of the ICT’s official representation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, food technologists and representatives of citizens and consumers as well, said the official, who believed that after the establishment of IFA, issues related to food will be less.

The food safety officers will be empowered to formulate standards, procedures, processes and guidelines on any aspect of the food production or sale including businesses and labelling, he said. Heavy fines and imprisonment will be imposed to the violators for selling substandard food items.

According to the official, IFA will set up a system where a network of food operators and consumers will facilitate food safety and quality control. Currently, magistrates and assistant commissioners (ACs) are responsible to check price and quality of food items in the capital. After the establishment of IFA, the food safety officers will be responsible to check price and quality of the food, he said.

According to the sources, the Ministry of National Food and Security and the Ministry of Science and Technology have raised some objections over the draft of IFA. Both the ministries are interested that IFA should follow their standards instead of their own. Therefore, they have raised some objections, the sources said.

However, Afzal Bhagat said that the Ministry of Interior Affairs resolved the issue and their objections have been removed and the draft was finalised which will be sent to the cabinet for final approval. In December last year, he said that the Law Ministry also prepared a draft under which IFA had to establish. However, the planed had shelved and the Interior Ministry took this initiative and finalised its own draft.