Food labs may be set up in private sector

 31 Oct 2013 - 3:47


Wassan Al Baker (Supreme Council of Health), Dr Shadi Salah Zeyadah (Doha Municipality), Joelle Hamamji Seyouri (Qatar Foundation), and Mohammed Hassan Ibrahim, (Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning), at a panel discussion during the Food Chain conference at the Hilton Hotel yesterday.

DOHA: Qatar may soon have food laboratories in the private sector with decks being cleared for such facilities.

A senior official of Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said yesterday that the regulatory body is ready to grant permission to private food laboratories, if there are potential investors. 

“Establishing food laboratories in the private sector will in fact reduce our burden since all tests related to food safety are conducted in the government laboratory. Permission for such facilities will be granted subject to strict quality standards,” Wassan Al Baker, Director, Food Safety and Environmental Health Department at SCH, told The Peninsula yesterday.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the ‘Food Chain’ conference which began at the Hilton Hotel yesterday. The two-day conference attended by representatives from the local food industry saw presentations by industry experts and representatives of SCH, Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.

Al Baker said once authorised food laboratories are established in the private sector, companies working in the food industry will be able to do quality tests there.

“However, the government laboratory will continue to conduct food tests by collecting samples from the market to ensure the quality and safety of all food products in the country.”

Earlier, in a presentation on food safety regulations in the country, Al Baker said the GCC states are working on a unified food safety system and a unified food law. “Unified food safety guidelines are ready for implementation and the draft food law has been completed.”

The unified food law will be in compliance with the food laws of the member countries and will serve as a common guideline on food safety-related issues.

Al Baker said Qatar is working on new food safety regulations, which will come into force with the establishment of the proposed Food Safety Authority. A draft law on the authority is awaiting the Cabinet nod. The authority will be responsible for controlling and monitoring all stages of the food supply chain, including retailing, transportation, labelling and packaging. 

It will also lay down rules for recall of products, which is primarily the responsibility of the companies, added Al Baker.

She said a food safety regime is lacking in Qatar. Insufficient storage facilities and improper handling are leading to huge waste of food. The new regulations will focus on a risk-based assessment system to ensure food safety, she added.

Dr Shadi Salah Zeyadah, food consultant at the Doha Municipality also addressed the opening session, among other speakers. The Peninsula