LAHORE – Almost all flourmills across the province, with the connivance of Punjab Food Department, are supplying substandard and unhygienic flour to public in sheer violation of rules and regulations.

The Punjab Food Department has completely failed to control illegal practice of flour millers to release flour having more than 18 per cent moisture content while it is compulsory that the ratio of moistness in flour should not exceed 13 per cent.

As per Punjab Food Department Testing Lab, majority of the flour mills in the province and particularly all mills in Lahore are not fulfilling health standards, as they miss several basic components in their wheat product. As far as keeping the ratio of moisture content in flour is concerned, no mill is following mandatory standards by limiting the ratio at 13 per cent while department has not been batting eyelid to take action against a single mill.

According to official sources, wheat or flour with high moisture content (over 13pc) attracts mold, bacteria and insects, all of which cause deterioration during storage. It cannot be stored for a long period due to over moisture. Besides, millers earn more profit by showing extra weight which loses when flour dries with the passage of time. According to the recent report of the Punjab Food Department’s Testing Lab, except few branded mills, the flour of all mills of Lahore has moisture content of 17-18 per cent, instead of up to the mark ratio of 13 per cent or less, sources said.

According to a laboratory’s report, samples of all flour mills were found not up to the conditions specified for standard flour. The humid element in the samples was more than normal in the flour. Hence, all samples from Lahore flourmills were declared sub-standard.

Sources said that flour has been considered adulterated with water, if the moisture content exceeded 13 per cent. However, the millers have demanded the government that this standard should be improved to 15 per cent as it is also revised in other countries, they claimed. Experts said that from different reports 11 to 13 per cent of moisture seems to be a normal content of flour over a large section of the province.

They said that Food Department sends samples of all flour mills to laboratories for quality check every month. Usually the department announces strict action against offenders, claiming action would be taken against those who are involved in poor quality production. They also claim that the violators will be issued show cause notices and heavy fine would be imposed on them. Though the department’s first priority is to provide quality food to the people but it is calm and quite while supply of substandard wheat flour is on the rise from all flour mills of city without any fear of action.

The name of major flour mills, which were found supplying low quality and unhygienic flour in provincial capital, as per lab report, are as under: Al-Ramzan Flour Mill, Zamindar Flour Mill, Raiwind Flour Mill, Ravi Flour Mill, Data Flour Mill, Awami Flour Mill, Nasir Flour Mill, Gulistan Flour Mill, Hyderi Flour Mill, Surtaj Flour Mill, Sunny Flour Mill, Premier Flour Mill, Rehmat Flour Mill, Soofi Wheat Products, VIP Flour Mill, Raiwind Flour Mill, Zamindar Flour Mill, Good Luck Flour Mill, Pakistan Flour Mill, Al Hermain Flour Mill, Al Rehman Flour Mill and Arabia Flour Mill etc.

The official sources further said that substandard flour was also being supplied to majority of USC outlets. “The 20kg flour bag is usually less in weight and this is compensated by adding water to it,” they said. They said that the quality of wheat flour being sold at USC stores was sub-standard, adding that many poor customers were willing to compromise on quality because of the difference in prices.

“The USC is providing some relief to the customers in terms of monetary benefits, yet it is playing with their health by selling substandard food items, particularly flour,” they alleged, adding that the concerned authorities were not taking the issue as seriously as it deserved.

Experts have asked Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif that government should not compromise on quality of flour and FIR be registered against mill owners who are involved in producing substandard wheat flour across the province. They said that recently some FIRs have been registered against 10 mills owners in Balochistan for producing substandard flour in their respective mills.