ISLAMABAD - Access to healthy food is a basic right of every citizen but residents of the federal capital have been denied of this due to the apathy of authorities concerned as food outlets, restaurants and eateries are serving substandard food items to their customers without any fear.

Urging the department concerned for paying regular visit to the food outlets operating in the markets of capital, the resident complained that the food departments only respond to a complaint being lodged with them.

They alleged that the restaurants’ owners in connivance with officials concerned are selling unhygienic food unabatedly posing a threat to their lives.

The public passionately called to ensure compliance of food safety rules by employing the innovative methods to discourage such malpractice spreading diseases among them. Shahzad Khalid, a resident of sector G-9, said that people belonging to lower and working classes were mainly affected from sale of unhygienic food as they could not pay to buy food from good restaurant.

Sadia Tariq, a housewife while expressing her concerns, said that the food served at roadside stalls and even smaller restaurants mostly does not have clean settings. “Stallholders and shopkeepers do not follow prescribed food hygiene rules while preparing and serving eatables and cause the spread of abdominal diseases”, she said.

“I prefer to eat my things at home,” she added.

Babar Ali, a customer, said that the food outlets that failed to meet hygiene requirements must be subjected to fines and their businesses should be closed until requirements are met.

A restaurant owner Razzaq khan said, “Here in our country, people have been starting food businesses based on the bulge in their pockets, and not whether they are qualified or know anything about food handling, or hygiene, or food safety standards,”. “In the process, they have been playing havoc with the human health.” he said.

A food safety officer of Islamabad Capital Territory said that under direction of Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat, the assistant commissioners were conducting regular visits to several eateries situated in the capital.

In more than 500 inspections during past two months, about 200 persons were fined against different food violations, he claimed.

“We were so disappointed to see some restaurants, which were having such a good reputation in town, and seeing the state of the kitchens, the utensils, the food,” he said.

Dr Arsalan, who runs a private clinic in G-13/1, said that food poisoning had become a common phenomenal, especially among youngsters due to consumption of sub-standard food.

He said that children needed healthy food, which contained ingredients essential for their physical growth and protection against diseases.