The withdrawal of Al Watania fresh chicken products, such as breast and leg, from the market over a salmonella scare does not seem to be affecting many residents in Qatar as they have worked out alternative plans.
Empty or near-empty shelves were greeting consumers in hypermarkets and supermarkets due to the current ban on Saudi Arabia-based Al Watania’s fresh chicken products. Also, locally-produced fresh chicken seemed to be flying off the shelves as soon as they arrive in some places and only fresh Peking duck was available for sale at a hypermarket visited by this reporter yesterday evening.
Live chicken is an option that many customers are exploring these days. “Apart from the convenience of picking up chicken fresh from the shelves, I am not really affected by the unavailability of fresh chicken because I know that I have alternative. I can go to a live chicken store and get one slaughtered and prepared immediately,” a
Several other shoppers, who were seen wondering aloud as they stood near empty shelves in the hypermarket, shared similar sentiments. Some of them said they would rely on frozen or live chicken for the time being.
“I was surprised when I saw that the shelf where I usually picked up my fresh chicken from was empty. I later got to know about the ban from an attendant when I enquired about the empty shelf,” a shopper told Gulf Times.
Doha Municipality had, over the weekend, ordered stores across Qatar to withdraw all Al Watania fresh chicken products after some of the poultry was found to contain salmonella, which can cause illnesses such as typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever and food-borne illness.
As of Sunday and according to Doha Municipality’s food inspection chief Hamad al-Malki, some 8,000 units of the chicken had already been withdrawn from grocery stores and hypermarkets after being declared unfit for human consumption.
However, Al Watania frozen chicken drumsticks and thighs as well as eggs, which have been certified salmonella-free, are available in large number and continue to be sold in major stores across the country.
Meanwhile, supervisors at another hypermarket could not say when the restrictions would be lifted.
“We have immediately withdrawn the stock of the banned fresh chicken following the government’s order and will continue to stock only locally-made fresh chicken until the issue is resolved and we get a clear order from Baladiya,” a store superviser said.
While hoping that the ban was lifted as soon as possible, the supervisor said the local suppliers cannot meet the increasing demand.
The price of chicken at his store ranges from QR12 to QR50 for a layer, broiler or cockerel.