Qatar imported as much as 3.98mn tonnes of food items in 2013, which is more than double the quantity of 2012 import. The total quantity of food imported in 2012 was 1.52mn tonnes.
“The increase in population has resulted in high demand for food,” Wassan Abdullah al-Baker, manager, Food Safety and Environmental Health, Supreme Council of Health told Gulf Times yesterday.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the training session for the food inspectors ‘Risk Based Food Safety Inspections Skills’ organised by SCH in co-operation with the UK based organisation, Campden BRI.
“Qatar is importing almost 90% of the food items. All the food imported to Qatar is of very high quality and much better than the food used in many other countries. All the types of food that comes to Qatar is being tested to make sure that there is no chemical or microbiological hazard in them,” he explained.
As per the statistics provided by the official, there is a gradual increase in the amount of food imported to the country over the last four years. According to the available statistics, in 2011 the total food imported to the country was 1.41mn tonnes. But, the significant increase was in 2013.
The official stated that there are 93 inspectors at all points of entry to the country to test the food items. “They are stationed at the airport, seaport, Abu Samra entry point as well as other places. They take samples and inspect them to make sure that they are of the desired quality.”
“All the food to Qatar comes with a good certification from the country of origin and we take samples and examine them. We do trust them but still we take samples and analyse them to make sure that they are not spoiled during the transportation or decayed during storing or other processes. We assume that there might be either chemical risks or other issues that can happen in transportation, “ she pointed out.
Head of the National Committee for Food Safety, Dr Sheikh Mohamed al- Thani said that several measures are taken to stop the malpractices by the food suppliers.
He explained: “In case of any violations of the standards in the imported food, we seek explanation from the suppliers of the food and make sure that such practices are not repeated. If necessary, we take a number of actions actions depending on the seriousness of the case, and impose on them different types of penalties.”
Sheikh Mohamed observed that several tonnes of food items are sent back or destroyed annually as they are seriously damaged. “It is better to destroy them as sending them back is more expensive. Our efforts are aimed at providing the best food for the nationals and the residents of the country,” he added.
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