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Posted On: 2 April 2023 09:42 pm
Updated On: 2 April 2023 09:52 pm

Ministry implements integrated plan for food safety during Ramadan

Tracy Quirino
Tracy Quirino
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Moph integrated plan food safety ramadan 2023

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) intensified its control measures on the local market to ensure the highest levels of food safety during the holy month of Ramadan; in this regard, the Ministry implemented an integrated plan that began several months ago to ensure the conformity of local and imported food, especially for the holy month.

The plan includes two phases to intensify health control over food safety to achieve the highest levels of safety for food consumed during Ramadan, focusing on intensifying inspection of hypermarkets and hotels, which are increasingly in demand during this period.

During the plan's first phase, an inspection campaign was launched, before the month of Ramadan, covering 52 hypermarkets.

The second phase, implemented during the month of Ramadan, is to cover major hypermarkets and hotels where Ramadan Tents are held, focusing on the results of the previous visits. Population density is also taken into account in choosing the locations of hypermarkets.

The inspections conducted by the Food Safety Department are carried out through the Electronic Food Safety System (Watheq), where 100 percent of hotels and 90 percent of major hypermarkets are registered in this system. The inspection activities of the Ministry of Public Health entail all aspects that may directly or indirectly affect the safety and quality of food products.

Inspection includes the whole food chain, from the receipt of primary foodstuffs to the display of ready-to-eat food. The inspectors are keen to inspect and check critical points, including the initial preparation, cooking-cooling and displaying ready-to-eat food. Additionally, the inspector checks the food establishment's conformity with the health requirements. As for critical points, measuring devices verify food temperatures after cooking and cooling and during their display. A special device is used to examine frying oils to ensure the safety of the oils used.

In addition, the inspectors assess the awareness of food handlers about food hygiene, hand washing and cleaning and disinfection procedures. Moreover, the inspector takes samples to ensure the extent of food safety and compliance with quality standards. The samples are examined in the central food laboratories of the Ministry of Public Health.

The role of the Food Safety Department is not limited to inspection and monitoring violations but also following up on the implementation of the corrective action plan that aims to achieve the highest levels of compliance.

Regarding the control of imported food, statistics recorded over 408,080,939 kilograms of foodstuffs from the beginning of 2023 to 15 March, and 404,610,697 kilograms were released after proving that they met the requirements. At the same time, 3 million and 470 thousand and 241 kilograms were rejected after it was proven that they violated the requirements of technical regulations and related standards.

Port health Inspectors at the State's land, sea and air ports work 24/7 to ensure effective control and the flow of goods in a manner that covers the market's needs without any technical obstacles.

The Food Safety Department has also prepared an awareness program to enhance the role of consumers in maintaining food safety and protecting their health, raising awareness about food safety and how to avoid foodborne illnesses. Awareness messages are being posted on social media and implementing awareness activities in Ramadan tents in hotels.

Source and cover image credit: QNA