DOHA: A law is on the anvil that seeks to stipulate stricter punishment for food outlets, including stores and eateries, which are found breaching food safety rules.
The draft law that contains amendments to some key provisions of an existing food monitoring legislation, recommends closing a violating outlet for 60 days instead of the current 30, as punishment.
The draft also suggests that the outlet caught breaching the law should be given only 10 days’ time, instead of the present 15, to petition to the Minister against the closure decision.
And the Minister, under the existing law, is required to get back to the petitioner within 30 days. This limit is recommended to the curtailed to 10 days by the draft law.
If the Minister does not respond to the petition within the above time-frame, the petition is to be considered rejected.
Details available suggest that three Ministries have the authority, under the present law, to enforce the food safety and monitoring regulations, and they are the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health or the Supreme Council of Health.
The State Cabinet, on September 18, 2013, approved the draft law and referred it to the Advisory Council for its study and recommendations.
The Advisory Council forwarded the draft to its services and facilities committee for an extensive review and recommendations.
Yesterday, the Advisory Council discussed the draft law and unanimously endorsed the amendments made to Law Number 8 of 1990, and approved by the Cabinet.
The draft law says that one of the three Ministries which is implementing the closure decision, must put up a notice at the violating outlet citing the reason for which it as being closed.
And the Ministry concerned must also post the name of the outlets with details of the violation on its website, suggests the draft.
Contacted for comment, the owner of an eatery said sarcastically, asking not to be named, that stricter regulations were aimed at only small businesses.
But businessman, Ahmed Al Khalaf, said he welcomed the draft law as smaller outlets were the biggest violators of food safety and monitoring rules.
“If you can recall, a fake meat company was caught recently and those promoting its products were only small grocery stores,” said Al Khalaf.
“This shows that smaller outlets generally don’t bother about quality, so they need stricter monitoring vide stringent laws.”
A stricter law does not only help protect the rights and safety of consumers, but it also helps an outlet as well, said Al Khalaf.