While many look away, claiming that Pakistanis have a strong immune system, the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) seems to be doing its job, making sure the food that we pay for is up to par. Responsible for the availability of safe and wholesome food, they have recently slapped two five-star hotels in Lahore, each with a fine of 75,000 rupees. With their unavoidable presence and thousands of followers on social media, food safety can be assured for consumers.

PFA, in its annual report for 2013-14, boasts visiting 19,040 food outlets and collecting 17,649 samples. What makes them so effective is their presence on social media. Their name-and-shame strategy makes sure restaurants have no choice but to repent once they are publicly humiliated on Facebook. Director Operations of PFA, Aisha Mumtaz, has not caved into external pressures. The restaurateurs obviously have connections they could call upon, but she has made it clear that she would rather quit her job than show leniency when it comes to the enforcement of rules and regulations. Action against top hotels is a clear-cut message that no one is above the law.

A report by the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan has claimed that seventy per cent of the food available in the market is adulterated. The sale of contaminated food or beverages is an offence in Pakistan under consumer laws. Food producers continue to use substandard raw materials such as contaminated water and inferior food colours, flavours, fats and oils because there is weak implementation of laws and a virtually non-existent integrated legal framework for food safety. Even if food being used is of good standard, there remain gaps in cleanliness, from the all-important washing of hands, to the sanitation of floors, sinks and fridges. Better sanitation is the key to preventing disease and infection.