Clash around Ministry bust
Reactions to the ministry’s accusations
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A large impact was left on the private and public sectors, today, following the decision taken by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to announce the names of several food companies accused of violations.

The private sector defended itself against the accusations, supported by Tourism Minister Michel Pharoun, who called on the MoPH to exercise patience and caution. However, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Walid Jumblatt, Member of Parliament and Head of the Parliamentary Bloc, supported Minister Wael Abou Faour’s actions.

Former Minister Faysal Karami expressed confidence in the high level of standards followed by restaurants in doubt. Following the ministry's announcement, Karami was seen visiting one of the named sweetshops.

Mohammad Lamaa, Vice Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, said: “This is a daring step by the MoPH and hope it continues all the procedures to close these departments.” He said that it is unfortunate that the situation has reached this point.

Tony Al Rami, Chairman of the Syndicate of Restaurants, Cafes, Night Clubs, and Patisseries, said: “We reject defamation and accusations before official warnings or judicial rulings are issued.”

Nabil Fahed, Chairman of the Syndicate of Supermarkets, said: “We still do not know what violations we have made, and why our products do not comply with the required standards.”

Supermarket Fahed sent samples of the products to the laboratories to check if there are any violations. “We usually test our products on a regular basis, and we are committed to hygiene and safety standards.”

Fahed said the Ministry should have informed us of these violations before they slandered us.

Jean Hawa, Chairman of Hawa Chicken, said: “We have not yet received an official warning from the ministry.” Hawa denied that its products do not comply with the standards. He said his company will take whatever procedures required by the ministry, once informed of them.

MoPH took 3,600 samples from major supermarkets, restaurants poultry companies, and pastry shops, from around the country. Testing of the collected food products included several bacteria and diseases such as salmonella, E.coli and airborne bacteria.

The violations detected included companies operating without licenses. Others did not comply with hygiene standards, such as inadequate cooling and some refrigerators that were infested with spiders and flies. In addition, rusted tools used for stirring food. Some kitchens had their doors opened to bathrooms and some food samples contaminated with human feces.

The MoPH will ask the Ministry of Interior, governorates, and Qaimaqam to close the departments that comprise these contaminated products.

The MoPH said that the campaign will continue. New samples have been taken from food institutions in Beirut. He said that the food safety law should be enacted as soon as possible.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Nov 12, 2014