Stricter rules soon for meat import

February 24, 2013 - 2:41:53 am

DOHA: With the horsemeat scandal triggering global concerns, Qatar plans to apply stricter rules for import of meat and meat products from all over the world. 

The Joint Food Monitoring Committee at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) is studying a proposal to make a quality certificate mandatory for imported meat, a senior official of the Ministry of Environment said yesterday.

Once the rule comes into force, importers of meat and meat products will have to produce a certificate from an authorised laboratory in the country of origin to prove that every consignment is disease-free and that there is no adulteration and contamination.

The rule will apply to meat imported from all countries, and not only Europe, where the scandal is said to have originated. 

“The Joint Food Monitoring Committee at its meeting last week decided to study the proposal. Once the study is complete, it will be sent to higher authorities for approval. We expect it to be implemented very soon,” Dr Mohammed Saif Al Kuwari, deputy chairman of the committee and director of the Laboratory and Standardisation Department at the Ministry of Environment told this newspaper yesterday.

“There are already rules in place in Qatar to ensure the safety and quality of imported meat but the horsemeat scandal has underlined the need for making the rules even stricter,” he added.

In keeping with the current requirements, all consignments of imported meat should come with a “Halal” certificate and a lab test report.

“The new proposal is to make an internationally approved quality certificate mandatory for all imports. Several Western countries and some Gulf and Arab countries have already implemented this rule,” added Al Kuwari. All types of fresh and frozen meat and processed meat will be brought under the new rule, once it is approved, he added.

The official said that stricter rules had become necessary in the context of repeated incidents and reports related to heath hazards posed by meat and meat products all over the world. The committee that discussed the horsemeat scandal also decided to seek information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the health implications of the issue.

There is no decision to impose a ban on the import of meat from Europe at the moment, since the issue is about mixing horsemeat with beef, which is not sure to pose any health hazard, it has been learnt. Qatar had banned the import of beef from Europe following the mad cow outbreak, but the ban was lifted later. 

The Peninsula