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Ministers clash over inspections
Ministry of Public Health defends inspections
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The announcements of violators to the health code by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) have placed it in hot water with other ministries and the private sector.

The MoPH published the names of violating food institutions, earlier this week, after taking samples from their shops, restaurants, and kitchens.

This subject irritated the violating companies and the Ministries of Economy and Trade (MoET) and Tourism. Michel Pharaon, Tourism Minister called for more patience and caution in dealing with this subject, to protect tourism.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Tripoli and the North (CCIATN), met to discuss this issue and how to restore the institutions’ reputations.

Toufic Dabbousi, Treasurer of the CCIATN, said: “We support all efforts that protect consumers, but we refuse all attempts against the economy.”

He said the person who took the samples from food institutions in Tripoli was incompetent because he did not use the appropriate method of collection.

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

Mounir Bissat, Chairman of the Food Industries Syndicate, said: “We are with the MPH’s campaign, but we object to defaming food institutions in the media.” He said that this scandal will harm the economy. The ministry should have penalized or closed them, but not announced their names in public.

The private sector met with Minister of Health, Wael Abou Faour to express their reservations regarding the standards applied by his ministry in collecting, transporting, storing and testing the samples. Charles Arbid, Chairman of Lebanese Franchise Association, said: “We want to be sure the MPH applied international standards in testing these samples.”
Nabil Fahed, Chairman of the Syndicate of Supermarkets, said: “We still do not know the violations we made, and why our products do not comply with the required standards.”

Michel Frem, Chairman of LARI said that the samples he received comply with the standards, and they do not accept any samples if they are not valid.

Supermarket Fahed sent samples of the products to the laboratories to check if they were contaminated. “We usually test our products on a regular basis and we commit to hygiene and safety standards,” he said.

Fahed said that “the ministry should have informed us of the violation, instead of defaming our name in the market.”

Abou Faour responded to his critics from the Lebanese Agriculture for Research Institution (LARI). He said: “The private sector is being impertinent.” He asked them not to suspect the government and that all samples were intact and taken in compliance with the standards. “We have all the scientific documents that prove that the campaign is righteous,” he said.

Abou Faour said that the main problem is in the water, the employees, hygiene, and safety conditions. Abou Faour announced that there were several violating poultry farms and slaughterhouses, which have already been shut down.

The MoPH said that MoET supervisors have begun their inspection rounds and he hoped for more cooperation between both ministries.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Nov 14, 2014