The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) is studying the possibility of implementing an early warning system at food control departments in all the municipalities across Qatar.
A source at the MME told local Arabic daily Arrayah on Thursday that the proposed system is aimed at tightening food safety and quality control of imported or locally produced products in accordance with global standards.
The system was first introduced at Al Rayyan Municipality with a service called Zahib (meaning 'ready' in the Qatari dialect) launched by food inspectors to ensure that food products are safe for human consumption.
It also followed up with related local and global warnings and notices. The service, launched two years ago, was very successful and inspired plans for a nationwide system on the same lines.
The source stressed that the introduction of this system has become a necessity, especially since most of the food items consumed in the country is imported from different countries.
The MME is also studying ways to transmit through a smart application or a website relevant information regularly so that food inspectors can access them and stay updated on the status of various food products available in the country at all the food outlets. In this way they can decide the proper action to be taken in case of any violation.
In March last year the Advisory Council approved a draft law to amend some stipulations of Law No 8 for 1990 on the Regulation of Human Food Control.
These modifications include a penalty of a six months to one year in jail and a fine ranging from QR7,000 to QR15,000, or any of such penalties for handling food products unfit for human consumption. The penalty will be doubled in case of repeat offence.
In the event of causing a permanent disability due to the consumption of bad or expired food, the penalty will be imprisonment of two to four years, with a fine of QR15,000 and up to QR30,000. The penalty will be doubled if the crime resulted in death.
For violating the regulations of importing or handling food products, the penalty will be a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of QR15,000.
In case of releasing seized food products without the prior approval of the authority concerned, the penalty will be from two weeks and up two months in jail and a fine of QR300 and up to QR2,000.
Food unfit for consumption will be confiscated and destroyed at the expense of the violator. Besides, the erring outlet will be closed for a period ranging from one to three months, with the penalty doubled in case of repeat offence. The closure decision will be published in two local dailies with the cost paid by the violator.