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Posted On: 29 January 2015 03:43 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 01:52 pm

Govt plans stricter steps for safety of imported food

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Health authorities are planning stricter measures to ensure safety of imported food.

All shipments will have to comply with a series of requirements before they reach the ports here, the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said yesterday.

They need to have quality certificates issued by authorised bodies in the countries of origin. The requirements vary depending on the nature of the product.

The documents include a fitness certificate showing the product is safe for human consumption, certificate of the country of origin, a full list of the items in each consignment, health certificate, phytosanitary certificate (issued by the plant protection organisation), veterinary certificate and Halal certificate. The Halal certificate should be certified by the Qatari embassy in the country

of origin. The products should be transported in containers meant for food that fulfill all health and safety requirements in keeping with international standards. Temperature in the containers should be maintained at the required level through the journey. The containers should be properly sealed.

In 2014, the SCH monitored the import of 91,949 food consignments that included around 1.5bn kg of food. Of these 250,443 kg were rejected for failing to meet the legal and technical requirements specified in the law. This represented 0.13 per cent of the total shipments. About 1.2m kg of food were destroyed while 777,485 kg were re-exported.

During 2014, the food inspectors collected 6,909 samples of which 512 failed to meet the requirements. The largest portion of imports were through the Abu Samra border post— about 784.4m kg, followed by the sea ports with a total of about 702.9m kg, and airport with about

56.5m kg.

Food from other GCC and Arab countries came in through the Abu Samra border post, while that from European and other countries entered through sea ports. In most cases, food with shorter shelf life was transported by air, the SCH said in a statement

yesterday. Violations mainly involved food containing ingredients that do not meet Qatari requirements or those not permitted such as alcohol and pork.

The rejected items included 4,090 cartons of biscuits that arrived in summer in a container with no proper cooling system. Another 100 consignments were rejected due to misleading data.

The rejected foods included meat and poultry products, sweets, milk, vegetables, fruits, sauce, juice and beverage.

To make inspections more accurate, the SCH has provided inspectors with latest devices and telecommunication tools.

Because of the strict monitoring, the number of banned items leaked to the market was very low compared to the international rate, said the statement