When businesses flourish at the expense of poor hygiene standards

Published: July 25, 2015

The recent raids on Pizza Hut and KFC in Peshawar and Fat burger, Pearl Continental (PC) and Avari in Lahore and the following corrective action taken by the government officials is indeed a welcome sign and deserves appreciation.

Cleanliness and hygiene are probably the least important segments to be taken seriously in our society. Be it our government-run offices, hospitals, parks and privately-owned eateries, grocery stores, and entertainment areas.

Due to a lack of awareness and absence of strict law enforcement, businesses are least bothered and easily get away by either bribing the food inspectors or paying off the little monetary penalties that the government impose on them whenever a certain concerned government official decides to do his/her job for a change.

The recent raids on Pizza Hut and KFC in Peshawar and Fat burger, Pearl Continental (PC) and Avari in Lahore and the following corrective action taken by the government officials is indeed a welcome sign and deserves appreciation. For once, it seems like some individuals have decided to take to task the people responsible for carrying out unhygienic and unsafe practices which is a criminal offence by all means.

Similar raids and stricter actions are required in the city of Karachi as well where there is a mushroom growth of eateries but zero enforcement of hygiene standards. In Sindh, the only sector that has been seen active in this respect is the electronic media which has played its role positively by carrying out surprise raids along with health officials and the concerned area administrators. This is where the discipline of food safety and a proper knowledge of the subject come in.

Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This involves a set protocol that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. This also includes a system of checks and balances to ensure safety between the industry and the market and then between the market and the end consumer.

When it comes to ‘industry to market’ practices, food safety concerns include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labelling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as the concerned policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. When considering ‘market to end consumer’ practices, the rule of thumb is that the food needs to be safe in the market during the storage phase and the safe delivery and preparation of the food for the end consumer.

Food can transmit disease from person to person as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In Pakistan, we quite frequently hear of people suffering from food poisoning after eating at some restaurant. The reasons are quite evident, unsafe and unhygienic storage of food or negligence shown during the preparation.

In developed countries, there are sophisticated standards for food preparation, whereas in lesser developed countries like that of ours, the main issue is simply the availability of adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item. In a city like Karachi, where because of criminal negligence shown by the government of Sindh and corruption within the Karachi Water and Sewerage Department, the water tanker mafia rules supreme and provides unhygienic water to homes and businesses 365 days a year. This water is then used by hapless end consumers in the preparation of food resulting in the rising cases of food poisoning and contamination.

The five key principles of food hygiene, according to the World Health Organisation are:

1. Avoid contaminating food with pathogens disseminating from people, pets, and pests.

2. Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked ones.

3. Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.

4. Store food at the proper temperature.

5. Use safe water and raw materials.

When it comes to enforcement of food and hygiene safety, up until now, almost all the provincial governments have shown criminal negligence with an exception of a few cases of enforcement that were in the media recently. Otherwise, the poor standard of cleanliness witnessed at government offices is a clear reflection of the state of mind the concerned officers come with.

The government will have to work on this crucial issue of food safety and hygiene on war footings and ensure the continuation of law enforcement in this respect with frequent surprise checks and implementation of the strictest penalties for a safe and healthy future for our nation. Sincere efforts are also required to provide the citizens with clean and consumable water, which is the basic necessity of every human.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (twitter.com/arsalanfaruqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sami

    Meanwhile Altaf bhai has dissolved the Rabita committee and PPP is doing fatheha of Bhutto.Recommend

  • lovely no ?

    That’s why I still eat at Shezan; they have over the years, neigh, decades, maintained comparatively hygenic standards.Recommend

  • Yariq Khan

    I found many times the Buns used in Burger were old not fresh one specially KFCRecommend

  • AbdulB1

    I don’t know when our government will raid the factories of big multinational corporations. India has placed a ban on maggi but nestle has become more active in advertising on Pakistani screens. Years ago i read there was tests performed on these UHT treated milk available in Pakistani market, test were performed in German laboratories but the results were never revealed in Pakistan. Lawyer representing these big milk mafias somehow got used courts to stop releasing the report


    I don’t know how much longer Pakistanis will ignore food safety.Recommend

  • Azhar

    Animals eat raw meat and don’t die. I don’t think food hygiene matters much.Recommend

  • Conservative Caitlyn

    Food safety in resturants in Karachi are we ready for any hygiene in Karachi. Piles of rotting garbage line the streets, people are not inclined to use containers to throw away rubbish. Saddar looks like a city dump where the local authorites enforce no codes, street vendor have taken over the sidewalk, they throw rotten piles on the street. Empress market is a nest of rats &infestation of flies where meat & poltury are sold without refrigeration where salmonella festers & spreads so what do you Mr. Arsalan Farqui suggest & why is the media not focusing on issues of that instead of the latest & greatest fashion lawn collection? maybe the beautiful models can stand by so you all can spotlight the mess? Recommend

  • Sane

    When it comes to enforcement of food and hygiene safety, up until now,
    almost all the provincial governments have shown criminal negligence

    What else could be expected from criminals. Nothing will happen; palms of criminals shall be greased as usual.Recommend

  • AbdulBaqi1

    not just kfc ,McDonalds also suffer from that mentality.Recommend

  • AbdulBaqi1

    it was bound to happen as no one seriously thought about food safety.Recommend

  • Sane

    Yeah; food hygiene does not matter much, as you say animals eat raw meat and do not die.Recommend