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Officials close to final deal on disposing of expired food
Expired food products seized by the Lebanese army in al-Tariq al-Jadideh, Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, March 23, 2012. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)
Expired food products seized by the Lebanese army in al-Tariq al-Jadideh, Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, March 23, 2012. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)
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BEIRUT: Holcim, an international concrete company, will provide an industrial incinerator to help dispose with Lebanon’s lingering stores of expired food, Environment Ministry sources told The Daily Star Monday.

The sources added that Holcim will deal with all similar waste disposal problems in the future. A memorandum of understanding between ministries and international companies to incinerate the country’s spoiled goods is almost complete after a long bureaucratic fight for approval.

Over 1,000 tons of spoiled meat and drugs currently stored in warehouses will start to be burned in October after months of delays.

Holcim will provide a single facility, while risk-control business APAVE will monitor the burning and test emissions for their toxicity level, according to the memorandum a ministry source read from as he spoke to The Daily Star.

The use of Holcim’s facilities to deal with the country’s expired goods will likely form the plan for the government’s waste disposal in the future, the ministry sources added.

It is understood that Holcim will not be charging the government for their services, for whom purchasing a waste burning plant would have been exceptionally expensive.

In a scandal that shocked the food industry at the beginning of the year, huge quantities of expired meat were discovered by inspectors being relabeled and resold in the country.

After the public’s attention turned to food safety, other large stores of expired food were uncovered as well as vast quantities of expired drugs.

According to official documents from the investigation into the expired goods and their disposal, there are over 400 tons of expired drugs and around 700 tons of spoiled food held by the government.

After considering plans to burn the expired goods at different incinerators around Lebanon, the memorandum says that 10 tons of drugs will be burned in the single incinerator for three days as emissions are monitored.

If results are within international standards, the burning will continue over the next several months.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 18, 2012, on page 4.
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