Lebanon News

Health minister refers labneh scandal to state prosecutor

File - Labneh and yogurt are seen at a supermarket in Beirut, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s health minister Monday referred findings of natamycin use in labneh production to the state prosecutor and called for those responsible for the practice to be brought to justice.

Health Minister Wael Abu Faour demanded that the prosecutor’s office “hold accountable those the investigation reveals were responsible and take the necessary judicial measures against them,” according to a ministry statement.

“The use of natamycin, which dairy plants admitted to adding, is against the standard specifications set by Lebanon,” it said, adding that although natamycin was used in some countries for surface treatment of cheese, the agent “should not be mixed with labneh.”

Last week, media reports that natamycin traces had been found in labneh products from at least two factories caused uproar over what is only the most recent in a series of food-related health scares to sweep the country.

The ministry statement said laboratory test results from UFAG, a prominent international laboratory based in Switzerland, indicated that milk products from Dairy Khoury and Dairy D both contained traces of natamycin.

Natamycin, also known as pimaricin and sometimes sold as Natacyn, is a naturally occurring substance produced during fermentation by bacteria found in soil.

In its statement, the ministry said there were no published studies on the public health effects of using natamycin at the levels found in the labneh, including on children.

The prosecutor’s office is expected to launch an investigation into the case soon and to issue requests to summon officials from the two dairy plants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 25, 2014, on page 4.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here