Lebanon unaware of what it’s eating
Popular chain restaurants and top supermarkets were found in violation of food safety codes.
(AFP/ Ramzi Haidar) BEIRUT – Lebanon’s health minister dropped a bombshell Tuesday, revealing that a number of popular restaurants and stores had been selling contaminated food. “Lebanese people do not know what they are eating, and it would be even worse if they did,” Wael Abu Faour said in a press conference. He revealed that his ministry had undertaken a wide-ranging probe in the past 20 days, taking 3600 samples from 1500 locations across the country, including restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, butcheries and sweet shops. “The lab results revealed that the Lebanese [are eating] food full of diseases and microbes.”The minister went into troubling details on the inspections, saying that “some of the tested food samples contained [elements] of human feces” while others had Salmonella and E.Coli. The press conference took a political tone, with Abu Faour calling for the immediate passage of a food safety law while warning that the government would be unable to protect citizens without one. Abu Faour, who is a member of the Progressive Socialist Party, also touted in the press conference that his ministry’s health inspections came as part of a “comprehensive reform policy” adopted by his party that is currently being implemented by its ministers.
Shame On the Lebanese food establishments: Meat your nightmare
Nov. 12, 2014/The Daily Star/Health Minister Wael Abu Faour didn’t mince his words at Tuesday’s news conference naming and shaming Lebanese food establishments which are pushing the definitions of cleanliness, but this announcement – and subsequent public outrage – now needs to be capitalized on. There have been many food scandals over recent years, with food poisoning a common complaint, and routine hauls of outdated meat and other produce, but these revelations are on another level. For too long the Lebanese have known that the food they buy in supermarkets and in restaurants is far from the highest standards, but have also known that not enough is being done about it, or to warn them. It would be reassuring to think that the Beirut establishments’ owners were duly concerned ahead of Thursday’s list, but this is unlikely, given the inadequate punishments meted out to those who violate food safety standards. While the Lebanese people are being distracted with the usual dirty politicking and name-calling, people should be united in their horror at this disgusting state of affairs, which results in us literally poisoning ourselves and our children. Such food safety investigations should not be a once in blue moon event, but should occur regularly, so that no proprietor can rest easy in the knowledge he is taking the lives of everyday Lebanese in his hands with his blasé attitude to expiry dates and human waste storage.All Lebanese must now work together to demand updated laws, and continued efforts to eliminate this appalling situation which has blighted Lebanon for too long.