LAHORE - The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) on Sunday sealed 13 cold storages and 41 warehouses for treating vegetables and fruits with calcium carbide, during a special drive against them in Punjab.

PFA Director General Noor ul Amin Mengal said that PFA had warned fruit vendors and cold storage owners against using calcium carbide and other hazardous chemicals on fruits in order to get them ready for use immediately and increase their shelf life.

However, 54 food business operators did not abide by instructions of the authority. In consequence, PFA sealed their premises and discarded 7,900 kilograms of chemically treated fruits.

As many as 3,400kg mango, 2,100kg apple and 2,400kg peach and pear were discarded by food safety teams. Mengal said that PFA teams have sealed two each cold stores in Lahore, Multan and Kasur zones and one each in Toba Take Singh, Jhelum, Gujranwala, Mianwali, Khushab, Vehari and Rahim Yar Khan.

He said that chemically treated fruit is harmful to consumer and people should avoid buying such fruit, adding that people should wash all food stuff before using and eating.

PFA will continue its crackdown on cold storages and repeatedly check fruit markets until beginning of Ramazan. He said that food safety teams will ensure that supply of fresh vegetables and fruits to markets during the holy month of Ramazan because demand for fruit usually increase in this month as compared to other months. 

He said that PFA had been warning them for the last one year against use of chemicals to get fruits ready for use before time. Chemically treated food is a major cause of diseases and food poisoning.

PFA will not only discard food but also seal the premises if it finds chemically treated food anywhere in Punjab, he said.