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BY MOHAMMED IQBAL
DOHA: The Ministry of Environment has imposed a blanket ban on the use of foam for serving hot food and drinks, and laid down new requirements for plastic and paper used for this purpose.
All plastic or paper cups and plates used for serving hot food and beverages are now required to carry a note saying they are suitable for the purpose.
This rule also applies to plastic and foam products used for packaging cold food and drinks. Foam is permitted only for cold food.
Eateries failing to comply with the rules will face stern action from today, a senior official of the ministry said yesterday.
Many eateries still use plastic and foam cups, boxes and plates for serving hot food and drinks, despite a ban imposed by the authorities several years ago.
The ministry has now come out with new regulations to effectively implement the ban in line with directives from the Joint Food Monitoring Committee at the Supreme Council of Health.
“Recently, we made it mandatory for all bakeries to use food grade plastic for packaging hot bread. We are now strictly implementing the requirements for plastic, foam and paper products used for packaging hot food and drinks,” Dr Mohammed bin Sailf Al Kuwari, director of the Laboratories and Standardisation Department at the ministry told The Peninsula yesterday.
He said beginning today, the municipal authorities will inspect all eateries to ensure that they comply with the rules.
According to the new rules, it should be clearly written on each product whether it is intended for packaging hot or cold food.
“This will help consumers check whether the food is packed in a healthy and safe way,” said Al Kuwari.
Only food grade plastic is permitted for packaging hot food and drinks.
With each consignment, importers have to attach a certificate from an authorised laboratory to prove they meet the food grade standards and specifications.
Each product should carry a sticker with a note in Arabic and English in red colour saying it is suitable for packaging hot food. This sticker should be displayed in a prominent way.
Plastic and foam cups used for cold drinks should also have a notification in Arabic and English saying it is suitable for cold food. This should be written in sky blue colour in a prominent manner.
Paper cups and boxes can be used for hot food and drinks only if they clear a “heavy metal test” to show that they don’t contain harmful substances. Importers should produce a certificate from an authorised laboratory as proof.
Aluminium plates and cups have been exempted from the rule for the time being, said the official.
In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry urged traders, importers and eateries to strictly comply with the regulations. It also suggested use of glass or ceramic plates and cups for serving hot food and drinks as an alternative.