Health of millions at risk as roadside eateries go unchecked


LAHORE: Thousands of roadside stalls are selling substandard eatables right under the Punjab Food Authority’s (PFA) nose while putting millions of citizens’ health at risk, Pakistan Today has observed.

As per the details, the food items being sold at these roadside eateries are exposed to dust and vehicle emissions and are consumed by a large number of people, especially students, on a daily basis.

During a survey, it was observed that a majority of these food points are located near schools, hospitals, markets, government and private offices, where shawarmas, pakoras, samosas, kebabs, burgers, haleem, rice, dahi bhallay and other substandard items are sold with little or no care of hygiene.

It has also been noticed that most of the eateries rely on water supplied by WASA, which is usually reported to be contaminated. Furthermore, several vendors do not have a supply of running water and they resort to using that stored in plastic tubs for the preparation of edibles as well as for washing dishes.

None of the roadside eateries have filtered drinking water either.

While PFA is busy in taking action against large food chains, supply units and companies, it seems like an action against roadside eateries is not a priority of the food watchdog.

Food-borne diseases like typhoid, cholera and gastroenteritis to name a few, are spreading owing to improper hygiene at these eateries.

PFA, in its report of 2017, had stated that a large number of handlers working at roadside food points were directly or indirectly caught with different diseases as well.

The report also indicated that due to the consumption of unhygienic food and lack of cleanliness at roadside food points, the number of hepatitis patients was growing rapidly in the metropolis.

According to PFA rules, all food handlers must have a medical fitness certificate, but during the survey, not even a single roadside food stall operator possessing one could be found.

Repeated attempts were made to contact PFA spokesperson Hafiz Qaiser but he was unavailable.