The government didn’t issue any import permits for expired Indian mango pulp, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahabzada Mehboob Sultan said.
Speaking to SAMAA TV on its show Naya Din on Friday, he said neither the Department of Plant Protection nor the Plant Protection Release Order issued any import permits for the entry of expired Indian mango pulp in the country.
He said the ministry is taking up the matter with the Federal Board of Revenue and Punjab food authorities to find out what happened and take action. “Our department has no information regarding the import, however, the mango pulp might have been imported illegally,” said Sultan.
He said the National Food Security and Research Ministry’s job is to only control imports and issue permits. “Our job is only to control and issue the permits for imports, which in this case we have not. We are now taking up the matter with the FBR and Punjab food authorities to control and cease its distribution to other cities of Pakistan.”
Earlier in a letter to the ministry, All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said that some officials in the Import Clearance Department of the Pakistan Customs had allowed the import of Indian mango pulp from Oman. The product was rejected by Oman because it was expired.
“And now the same product is being supplied to various cities in Punjab via trucks after travelling through Sindh,” said Ahmed on Naya Din.
“Around 200 to 250 tons of Indian mango pulp packed in blue drums with a pasted packing list of expiry dates of December 12, 2018, and January 2019 was found in Faisalabad,” he said. The association chief mentioned that the expired product was dangerous for human consumption and in extreme cases could result in death. Recently, numerous incidences of death have been reported due to consumption of expired food in restaurants and hotels.
“Expired mango pulp and the concentrate is also a source of spreading major diseases among consumers leading to human sufferings and deaths,” the letter read, adding that expired mango pulp can be used to make juices and jams.
Ahmed said that “the illegal import of Indian product is also a threat to the local industry as earlier smaller sized mangos from Pakistan were used to make the pulp.” He remarked that agricultural imports from India pose a threat to Pakistan’s economy and local pulp industry.
“Pakistan is an agricultural country and has invested heavily to not only meet local demand but also earned valuable foreign exchange through export in international markets,” he said.
The Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Imports and Merchants Association patron-in-chief urged the government to find those responsible for “playing with human lives” and thoroughly investigate the matter.