ISLAMABAD-In a bid to empower female lawyers on the legal framework of consumer protection and food fortification, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition arranged a one-day orientation session in Rawalpindi.

Facilitated by Farzana Aziz, the newly elected Rawalpindi Bar Joint Secretary, over two dozen active female lawyers participated in the event. Mr. Nadeen Iqbal, CEO, TheNetwork, stated that for a comprehensive food fortification in the country, a mixed approach of using three provincial laws – food fortification, consumer protection, and right to information – are needed to be used for consumer complaint redressal and judicial review of regulatory mechanisms.

He said while consumer protection law has a focus at deceptive marketing, food fortification provides for the implementation of standards for food fortification and periodic laboratory testing, the right to information law can be used by lawyers to gather evidence to consolidate their cases if food standards are not complied. The consumer can also lodge a complaint related to the violation of food standards. Furthermore, any person can make an application in writing to the food safety officer (an official of food authority) asking him to purchase a sample of the food item to get it analysed. It is the responsibility of the food safety officer to take action in case of a standard’s violation, he said.

He further said that lawyers have a crucial and dynamic role in assisting the consumers in getting justice. Lawyers are the key agents for the purpose of consumer empowerment to recognise and exercise rights that protect their wellbeing. Faiz Rasool, Head of Programmes, GAIN, addressing the legal fraternity said that the current nutrition crisis cannot be tackled by using a single approach but needed a multi-pronged strategy.

He stated “We need to use multiple approaches as 10 years ago a single serving of food such as spinach had enough nutrients to fulfil a person’s daily requirements but today we would need more than 80 servings to receive similar nutritional value from food, as the nutritional value of food itself has dropped drastically.”

Additionally, cooking and other food handling measures further reduce the nutritional value of food.