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Lebanon News

Hajj Hasan warns against unsafe food containers

  • Cucumbers being pickled in salted water. (Wikipedia/Marcin Floryan)

BEIRUT: Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan called Tuesday for strict observance of safety and health standards in food packaging, according to the National News Agency, after a meeting with food and plastic-product manufacturers.

“We should protect the national food industry from any factors that endanger its safety and quality” Hajj Hasan said, warning that violations could harm people and the industry’s reputation, as well as its ability to compete in local and foreign markets.

In a meeting with the Lebanese Industrialists Association, the Food Industries Union and plastic producers, Hajj Hasan stressed the need to apply food-safety standards in the production of plastic barrels.

This meeting came after the TV program “Haki Jales” (Straight Talk) reported on a scandal about the packaging of pickles and other food products in plastic containers previously used for chemical materials, potentially poisoning consumers.

It named three companies that collect dumped plastic barrels and sell them to food industrialists.

According to Hajj Hasan, LIBNOR, the Lebanese Standards Association affiliated with the Industry Ministry, should set standards for plastic containers production to ensure the barrels are of “food grade.”

Food grade is the industry standard for any plastic products that will come into contact with foodstuffs.

“Owners of food industries, merchants, supermarkets and retailers should all commit to recalling the invalid barrels and stop using them,” he said, adding that any unsafe containers should be replaced with ones that respect food safety standards.

As a stopgap measure during the transition, Hajj Hasan suggested that a temporary solution might be to introduce food-grade nylon bags to isolate food products from the old plastic containers, until all containers are successfully replaced.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 21, 2014, on page 4.
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