Lebanon food safety scandal no match for consumers’ Kafkaesque metamorphosis

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A butcher shop in the southern Lebanese city of Saida. Al-Akhbar/Hassan Bahsoun

Published Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Given that over 400 million people live on less than $3 a day in India, is it not fair to ask: Why does one kilogram of Indian beef cost $8 in India, while it costs less than $4 in Lebanon?

Next time you go to a well-known supermarket and buy one kilogram of Indian beef for just $5, don’t be too happy about it, thinking that it is a great achievement, because that does not make any sense.

As a Lebanese consumer, don’t you have the right to wonder why Picon cheese does not exist in France?

Are you not curious enough to use some of your brain cells when you find out that no one in the Netherlands has ever heard of the famous Zwan [processed meat] that you often find on your dinner table?
Have you never wondered about the horrible smell near the frozen fish section, especially if you find out that the price of one kilogram of sea bass in Turkey is over $18, while you can buy it for just 12,000 LL ($8) in Lebanon?
Don’t all these facts prompt you to ask questions, or were you really waiting to be surprised by Lebanese Minister of Health Wael Abu Faour’s revelations?
A while ago, a famous German pesticide company published an interesting report shedding light on its business development in the past 50 years.

The report included detailed explanations about the research department in the company. In one of its sections, it stated that certain insects, particularly cockroaches, became somewhat immune in a few short years to chemicals used in pesticides. The cockroaches were no longer affected or dying after being sprayed with these chemicals, and in turn drove the science department to develop new kinds of poisons to kill the insects.

The report concludes that “nature” is able to adapt to all changes around it in order to “survive.” This includes “inferior species” like insects.

The situation in Lebanon is somewhat similar to what happened in Germany.

In the light of the recent uproar over food safety (as if this is the first time this has been discovered), we should note that despite the food “atrocities” endured by the Lebanese, the rate of food poisoning remains lower than that registered in other countries like the United States for example.

Indeed, the Lebanese have an amazing power to adapt to their surroundings in order to survive. There is no need to panic, your fears are no longer justified… so just relax and go on with your life.


The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar English's editorial policy. If you would like to submit a thoughtful response to one of our opinion pieces, send your contribution to our submissions editor.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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