Combatting Food & Drug Adulteration in Punjab

Food and drug adulteration has become fairly common in Pakistan. Suppliers are always on the lookout for increased profits and achieve it by compromising the quality of the food supplies. Food security is increasingly becoming a concern. At its essence food security deals with access to a sufficient amount of food to fulfill the nutritional and dietary needs of the population. However, for Pakistan, this challenge has remarkably multiplied in the past 2 years with the COVID-19 pandemic and now the ‘monsoon on steroids.’ As far as food intake is concerned, we are passing through the worst period of our history where every food with high nutritional value is now out of reach of the majority.

The quality and purity of edible items is crucial for the general health of consumers. A number of them get ill after consuming expired edible items. This is an injustice to those that pay the rate for a healthy consumable product but are swindled by the manufacturers who might have sold them expired items.

Similarly, counterfeit drugs or spurious drugs are another common problem in Pakistan. More than 40 percent of medicines sold in Pakistani markets are either counterfeit or substandard. Moreover, the risk associated with trafficking counterfeit drugs is lower than those of addictive drugs.

Another important factor is the country’s agriculture sector and the use of fertilizers and pesticides to improve crop yield. Pakistan is an agricultural country as almost half of the population works in the agriculture sector and it amounts to one-fifth of the country’s economic output. The agriculture sector in Pakistan is solely at the mercy of weather, seeds and agricultural input such as fertilizers and pesticides. Vegetables, grains and fruits should essentially be free from excessive fertilizers like nitrate content and heavy metals.

Reforming manufacturers requires transparent and strict regulation. Regular checks and testing of items is essential to enforce true compliance and ensure health safety. In order to combat this, Government of the Punjab administered Infrastructure Development Authority of the Punjab (IDAP) to establish the Punjab Agriculture, Food and Drug Authority (PAFDA). The complex is being built across 381,150 square feet (approximately) of land area next to Thokar Niaz Baig in Lahore.

The PAFDA Complex will house three Biosafety Level 3 category laboratories: Agriculture Laboratory, Food Laboratory and Drug Laboratory for the forensic examination and testing of fertilizers, pesticides, foods and drugs. IDAP will not only develop the complex but procure the latest equipment for these laboratories as well.

PAFDA is a fully equipped, state-of-the-art laboratory having the following distinctive features: 

  • Purpose build structure (Dust, Temperature & Humidity control environment)
  • Two floors for each lab (Chemistry & Microbiology)
  • Unified testing facility under one roof
  • Dedicated infrastructure areas i.e. Main building, Sample collection building, Energy Center, Auditorium, Safety & Security Rooms
  • Specialized Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Equipment
  • Operated under Building Management System (BMS);
  • Highly aesthetic and energy efficient building façade
  • IT-based operational activities (LIMS and ERP)

The project started in March 2018 and has completed numerous phases of its construction. Some portions of the construction are still left, and it will be up and running for daily operations.

Laboratories are an essential component of food, drug and agricultural products control system. The PAFDA complex will ensure that all food, drugs, fertilizers and pesticides being produced in the province conform to international standards and are safe.

Leave a Reply