Muscat: Aiming to raise food safety awareness among the public, the fourth Food Safety Week kicked off on Sunday.
To keep consumers safe, establishments found violating the food safety norms were closed down at a rate of almost four a day resulting in 1,453 closures in 2016.
Besides, 37 warnings were issued to food establishments daily, which totalled to 13,443 warnings last year. Almost 72 violations were recorded every day for non-compliance with requirements, resulting in 26,306 violations last year. Around 62 instances were recorded every day of food being seized and destroyed, adding up to 22,617 last year.
This is the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources’ fourth Food Safety Week since 2014. The awareness week will run from Sunday the 9th of April to Thursday the 13th of April.
Different awareness activities and events have been planned in various governorates of the Sultanate, aimed to inform the community on the achievements in this field, and educate them on requirements and laws to follow for healthy and safe food.
The awareness programme will be implemented for the first time at Sultan Qaboos University, in order to raise awareness among university students on the basics of food safety, and preventative measures to prevent food poisoning. The programme will focus on food basics, sources of risk, food poisoning, hygiene standards, and how to read the nutrition data sheet.
Activities around the Sultanate also include awareness of health habits to be followed when purchasing and consuming food, as well as safe shopping and understanding food quality.
The awareness campaigns are taking place on social media, via the Municipality’s different channels, as well as leaflet distribution and campaigns in commercial centres and public areas. Seminars and visits to food-related establishments have also been organized in order to raise awareness of food quality.
Dr Hamad bin Sulaiman Al Ghuraibi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Regional Municipalities said that Food Safety Week is an effective showcase of the Sultanate’s efforts in the field of food safety and quality.
“It highlights the importance of protecting the health and safety of the consumer, and we look forward to more integration of all stakeholders to achieve the common goal of finding high quality food products that meet the highest standards and specifications required,” he said
He also pointed out that the Ministry is continuously following up with food facilities to ensure that they meet and comply with the necessary health conditions. This is through the field inspection campaigns, as well as particular attention to animal control.
“The Ministry pays close attention to the field of veterinary control through the modernization of slaughterhouses, as well as supplying veterinary doctors in order to guarantee the safety of meat. Meat shops also go through continuous follow-up in order to regulate sales and meet appropriate health standards,” the Municipality commented.
Statistics from last year showed that the total number of slaughtered animals in the slaughterhouses that are affiliated to the Municipality reached 444, 220, of which 5,807 were fully destroyed for health standards, and 57, 338 were partially destroyed.
He Al Ghuraibi also talked about the project, “Your Food is a Trust”.
“The project monitors food facilities remotely by cameras that are online, in order to enable specialists to monitor these facilities directly for any abuses, and inform them of healthy food standards,” he said.
“The project has already been implemented in various restaurants and slaughterhouses, for remote monitoring of the preparation of food, in order to guarantee standards,’ he added.
He said that the Ministry is following up on all global developments in the field of food, especially in light of commercial fraud that has been challenging the food world.
“The Ministry continues to take a firm stand against fraud, and has been developing solutions and legislation which ensure the health and safety of consumers.”