MULTAN - The speakers and nutritionists at an international food conference pointed out on Thursday that the food being consumed by Pakistanis has become highly unhygienic, not-fit-for-human health and a major cause of many diseases due to toxins found in it, calling for an immediate collective effort from all sections of society including government to ensure supply of safe and healthy food to the people.

The Third International Conference and Food Expo was organised by the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition here at Bahauddin Zakariya University. Food experts from different national and international organisations, food technologists and researchers attended the conference.  

The food experts further pointed out that polluted water also caused a number of diseases while adulterated food especially milk exposed children to dangerous diseases even before the age of five. They stressed the need for taking solid steps for making food safe and free of adulteration.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman of Pakistan Science Foundation, said that safe food has become a serious international issue and the situation in developing countries is very dangerous. He added that unsafe and adulterated food left very serious negative impacts on human lives as a result of which mortality ratio due to diseases increased horribly in poor countries. He warned that the children are the most vulnerable section of the society in this situation and “we needed to adopt a quick and collective line of action to tackle this issue.” He appreciated the Punjab Government’s efforts and said that the Punjab Chief Minister has realised gravity of the situation and set up the Punjab Food Authority.

In his address, Noorul Ameen Mengal, Director General of Punjab Food Authority, said that the Punjab Government took the issue of adulterated food very seriously and the offices of the authority have been set up at divisional level. He added that the teams of the authority monitored and inspected hotels, restaurants, milk vendors and all other edible sellers regularly. “Our teams spoil adulterated food at the spot and impose heavy fines on the accused. The Punjab Food Authority Act is also amended and punishment is increased,” he added. He declared that the PFA offices would be set up at district level in the entire province very soon.

In his speech, Gambia University Vice Chancellor Dr Faqeer Anjum pointed out that about 15 percent children up to the age of five fall prey to different diseases due to poor food while acquiring safe and nutritious food got harder with the passage of time. He added that even the quality of vegetables and fruits available in the market was very poor. “Entire society needs to launch a joint effort to tackle this issue,” he suggested.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Tahir Ameen, Vice Chancellor of BZU, said that research and conferences are the identity of an institution as these activities offered solutions to the communities for the problems being faced by them. He hoped that the conferences and research activities being organised by the BZU would bring a positive change in the society.

Chief organiser of the conference Dr Saeed Akhtar said that safe food is a basic right of every human being as there was no concept of life without food. He added that poor and adulterated food had become the most serious issue of our society and we needed to utilise our all out resources and capabilities to tackle it.