Ayesha-MumtazA young lady associated with the Punjab administration decided to do her job honestly and to the best of her ability. The results were startling. Suddenly there were graphic reports of donkey meat, pork and even meat of dead animals being sold  and supplied to eateries. There were also reports of unhygienic conditions in restaurant and hotel kitchens—not just roadside eateries but also the five star types. Lahorites were aghast but they should not have been surprised. The profit margins for these haram meat sellers are enormous and not just for them but also for those buying and using this meat. Think of the vast roughs cooked and served at weddings, the barbeque joints and the nihari sellers and you will get the picture. The checking spree has spread to other towns in Punjab. Let us hope that there is permanence in these arrangements. The more positive dimension is that people are either giving up meat or becoming very choosy about what they are getting and from where they are getting it.

On the heels of this phenomenon come reports of raids on ‘factories’ engaged in producing fake toiletries, fake cosmetics and fake medicines. The trick is to create a shortage and then unleash a fake product that is then quickly snapped up. The packaging is exactly like the original. Condiments, cooking oils and other products are included in this scam creating a serious health hazard. So far not much has been done to stop this rampant activity but at least the public is being made aware of what is being sold to them.

There is another dimension to this nefarious activity. There are no arrangements for refrigerated transfer of meat and vegetables. One well known supermarket unloads all produce in the parking lot where it is sorted out in the heat by sweating workers and then hand carried to the air conditioned premises where the unsuspecting customers are waiting. There is also the scene where beverages in plastic bottles are left in the sun for hours creating carcinogens within them — no wonder the incidence of cancer is rising in Pakistan. You will not find a single drug store or pharmacy that stores medicines in temperature controlled environments so even the genuine product losses its efficacy very quickly in the hot summers.

The well heeled have an answer. During their annual or biannual jaunts abroad they stock up on medicines, toiletries, cosmetics and even groceries so that they do not have to buy anything locally. Sad but true. The brunt of the negative impact is thus borne by those who do not have an alternative. A good move by the government could be oversight of pharmacies and those selling edibles and insistence that they improve storage and transportation systems. There is the problem of the energy shortage and the cost of energy — after all how can you run generators and still hope to make a profit. A vicious circle if ever there was one. Switch to home grown vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, cereals etc but then you need money to buy these at exorbitant costs!!! What should one do and where should one go?

AREA 14/8

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