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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s most affluent and well-policed city is closing down its dirtiest cafes and restaurants in a round of snap inspections which has led to more than 20 outlets being shuttered or fined.
Seven inspection teams made up of veterinarians, food and health department officials are storming Islamabad’s restaurant scene to punish poor standards even at the city’s more upscale eateries.
Officials discovered vendors reusing old chicken bones in food preparation and serving two-year-old ketchup.
“The best chicken pulao place claims it only makes chicken pulao, but why do they have red meat in their inventory and freezers?” asked Abdul Sattar Isani, the assistant district commissioner general and the man behind the filthy kitchen purge.
“And two-year-old ketchup deserves some sort of reprimand, even if it is served at the city’s finest coffee shop,” he added.
His teams have inspected more than 80 restaurants and collected more than $4,000 in fines, according to Isani.
“If something looks dirty, it is dirty. And a cockroach is a cockroach,” he continued. “You don’t have to send it to a lab, though we are doing lab tests, too.”
He added that restaurant owners who have been shut down need to face the police and pay heavy penalties.
“You have turn up at a police station, sign an undertaking, swear upon God that you will be clean and ethical, and pay 8 lacs ($8,000) to get your place to open again,” Isani said.
"If they shut down Juicy Gossip, Burning Brownie or CGC (Char Grill Company), I’ll riot."
Stomach-churning photographs from the raids were shared on the city government’s official Facebook page.
Captain Waqas Rashid, the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, said one of the raided sites — a food processing factory — was sales off because inspectors found dissected flies, dead bees inside honey and the “pungent odor of rotten foodstuff and pickles.”
“It appeared more like a waste disposal site,” he said, adding that four people had been arrested there.
Meanwhile, social media exploded in a debate over the issue.
“Food authority now in Islamabad — Good job. These dirty restaurants have to be shut down,” Islamabad resident Mustafa Sajid on Twitter.
“If they shut down Juicy Gossip, Burning Brownie or CGC (Char Grill Company), I’ll riot,” said another.
Isani insisted that restaurant inspections were not new and there was no agenda behind the latest crackdown.
“We’ve done this before,” said Isani. “All that’s different this time is that we are taking the media along to educate the public. That’s where the uproar is coming from.”