Lebanon: Spoiled food scandal reaches Beirut

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Different Lebanese cheeses and yogurts on display during Beirut's annual cooking festival held a BIEL on November 6, 2014. Anadolu Agency/Bilal Jawich

Published Saturday, November 15, 2014

The campaign initiated by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour is ongoing. It seems that escalatory measures are being taken following the referral of files related to spoiled food to the attorney general of financial affairs. Abu Faour ordered three food companies in Beirut to be shut down. According to sources, the campaign results will be announced in Beirut next week.

On November 13, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour added three new names of restaurants that did not meet the national health standards to two previous lists. It appears that some test results for restaurants in Beirut have been submitted to the ministry.

The initial outcome is as follows: al-Natour butcher shop in Ras Beirut was closed permanently, Malek al-Batata restaurant in Hamra will close for five days, and Abboud Chicken in Sfeir will be closed and its products disposed of as new food samples will be tested.

According to informed sources, results for the Beirut area are currently in laboratories – which need five full days to be issued – and will be announced with those of the southern suburbs. The sources said that the campaign yesterday targeted importers of meat and chicken, from whom samples were taken for examination.

Abu Faour submitted all food safety test results to the financial public prosecutor for consideration, and to take the appropriate legal and judicial measures to ensure that such violations against citizens' health and safety are not repeated.

Abu Faour asked Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouk to take the necessary procedures to prevent the sale of the meat (kofta, minced meat, sausage, basterma, etc.) that was found to contain harmful bacteria at al-Natour butcher shop, and to confiscate all manufacturing, chopping, and mixing machines. The order followed the release of the health safety monitoring report, which said that the butcher shop does not meet food safety and hygiene standards.

Abu Faour also requested the closure of Malak al-Batata restaurant in Hamra for five days because it does not meet certain criteria related to food safety and hygiene until the situation is resolved and additional tests are conducted.

He also instructed that all products at Abboud Chicken in Sfeir be disposed of and for the restaurant to be closed until new samples are obtained, since the samples examined show that it does not meet the required health safety standards.

Before naming the three new restaurants, Faour answered a few questions raised by citizens and affected businesses. He examined current sample tests being run in the bacteria laboratory at the Department of Agricultural Scientific Research. He confirmed that the "samples are accurate, and the inaccurate ones are rejected, thus all the results we have announced are those of samples that meet the criteria, starting with the sources, to packaging, until they arrive at the laboratory. These samples are 100 percent sound as they are transferred in special refrigerators, and the results are accurate."

He added that the ministry used the laboratories at the American University of Beirut after the government laboratories reached full capacity, not for any other reason.

Abu Faour will not only expose food institutions, the campaign will also target water companies, and action will be taken against companies that sell unsanitary water.

According to the minister, the main problem is at butcher shops and chicken farms. He announced that there will be a focus on “chicken farms, and I think that many of them will be closed."

Dr. Michel Afram, director of the Department of Agricultural Scientific Research, explained that "samples that do not meet the examination conditions, such as temperature or expiry date, are not examined. The laboratory has certification from the European Union for 13 bacterial tests, and we continue to obtain certification and pass competency tests under European and international supervision."

"When there is any doubt in the results, we rerun the tests in our laboratories and elsewhere," he added.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

"necessary steps taken - to confiscate all manufacturing, chopping & mixing machines"

It would have been enough to order that they be washed down & sterilized under supervision - did they take all the knives also - everyone (?)

June 20 - 2012
Al-Akhbar - ran this article.
Beirut Blackout: Like Country, Like Capital
"most areas in the country are accustomed to sever power rationing"
"electricity outages are kept to a minimum in the capital"

Is the ESTABLISHMENTS IRRESPONSIBLE practice of turning off the electricity supply a contributing factor to the contamination of food (?)
And therefore they must be held to account.

A shawarma sandwich in Nabatieh almost killed me

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