According to the Asian Development Bank, maintaining Pakistan’s agriculture sector’s economic viability is difficult due to the absence of a cogent sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory framework and harmonised food safety laws, outdated animal and plant health laws, subpar supply chain management, and a strong emphasis on end-product food safety testing (ADB).
The Bank noted that Pakistan’s food safety system lacks a supra-ministerial advisory board to coordinate activities among concerned agencies, making food safety governance difficult and complex and frequently failing to facilitate trade and protect public health in its most recent report, “Strengthening food safety systems in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation member countries current status, framework, and forward strategies.”
In the nation, there are more than a dozen federal and provincial food laws, many of which do not address current problems with food safety. Despite the numerous laws governing food safety, a sizable fraction of the agro-food items produced in Pakistan do not meet the standards for the health of animals and plants and food safety, frequently because of high levels of chemical and pesticide residues.
While provincial and local governments oversee food safety requirements for the internal trade of food goods, the federal government of Pakistan regulates food imports. Municipal governments pass unique rules to regulate food safety, but these laws do not address customer concerns about the level of food safety in retail establishments.
Officials typically embrace Codex recommendations when current regulations do not apply to a product.
A number of ministries and agencies are involved in each tier of Pakistan’s three-tiered food safety system. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) is in charge of seed certification, food safety laws, and plant and animal health.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is the organisation responsible for food safety. Based on Codex Alimentarius or other international food standards, it establishes limitations for food pollutants.
In order to guarantee the food safety of fish and fisheries products, the Marine Fisheries Department is under the direction of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping. The primary organisation for developing or adopting international standards in Pakistan is the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), which is a member of the ISO. Manufacturers and exporters from within the country must register with the PSQCA.
Pakistan has an acceptable number of laboratories for regulating and monitoring food safety, some of which are equipped with basic to adequate resources and personnel. A total of 200 laboratories evaluate food for various chemical and microbiological contaminants.
The ISO-17025 system has authorised more than 100 labs, giving them reference laboratory status. Public sector laboratories are managed by the corresponding ministries. The Pakistan National Accreditation Council ISO-17043 has granted accreditation to Pakistan’s National Physical Standards Testing Laboratory, a certified calibration facility.
In Pakistan, a number of distinct foodborne illnesses are quite prevalent, including various types of hepatitis, typhoid, animal contact illnesses, influenza, and aerosolized dust, as well as soil contact illnesses