Lebanon is in need of effective food safety measures in light of the series of food scandals that the country has witnessed, ministries and experts say.
The Lebanese food industry is rife with serious issues, said AUB Professor Zeina Kassaify. “Mislabeling is the key issue and the fact that we don’t have proper law or enforcement mechanism.”
“Part of the law says we should be monitoring. … In the U.S. they have the FDA. If they find something that is not up to standard, they penalize people. Here it’s not like that, someone says something on TV and everyone gets outraged without there being any credibility.”
Pierre Abu Nakhoul, an engineer with the Industry Ministry who also carries out inspections, said a lack of resources had hampered monitoring efforts. The ministry must follow up on certain food safety aspects with 2,000 food companies. With the available staff, it could check up on 5-10 each day.
Furthermore, about 30 percent of those food companies are operating without permits, an issue that has also affected food safety monitoring.
The real problem is the overlapping authorities of different ministries with respect to monitoring food processing activities, according to Mounir Bissat, president of the Syndicate of Food Industries.