Muscat: Talks are underway to regulate and even ban plastic in the production and sale of halwa, the Ministry of Commerce has announced.
The decision was announced after residents in Oman reacted in horror to a viral video which clearly shows a melting plastic bucket being used to transfer hot halwa mix from one plastic container to another.
Read here: Oman halwa shop closed after viral video shows melting plastic buckets
A shop in Muscat was closed down after the video was aired and inspection teams are currently touring the country checking shops and factories.
Plastic buckets and items used in the production of halwa in Oman have already been seized in various governorates, municipality officials revealed.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the Public Authority for Consumer Protection, the ministry wants to protect and preserve the image and reputation of one of Oman’s best loved sweets.
A ministry spokesman, in an official statement posted online, said: "Following what has been circulating on social mean and news outlets regarding the use of plastic in moving Omani halwa from the container, leading to discontent of public opinion on the topic, the ministry confirms that using plastic containers when moving hot halwa directly from the pot to another plastic container is a wrongful legal practice and is criticised by all laws and regulations related to the control of the quality of production, food safety and consumer protection. It is contrary to the good manufacturing practices of Omani halwa, where specific metal tools are used."
Plastic that can be used in the production of halwa must be scratch resistant, and must not contain any phenols or formaldehyde, the ministry added.
Additionally, all surfaces touching the food must be non-toxic and must not produce any odour or taste, it must be capable of repeated washing and disinfecting and must be smooth, free of cracks and coatings.
Employees must follow the health and safety guidelines such as wearing gloves and covering the face and head to prevent any contamination of the food, the ministry added.
“The ministry is currently cooperating with the related ministry and government agencies to confirm such packages.
“The ministry confirms that the Omani halwa enjoys high quality and there are factories that are well known locally and internationally, what has been circulating on social media should not affect the reputation of Omani halwa.
“The ministry continues its efforts to perform inspections on containers that are used in halwa shops, and will make a decision to coordinate with other regulatory bodies, such as the Ministry of
Regional Municipalities and Water Resources , and the Public Authority for Consumer Protection, whether it is necessary to ban the use of these plastic containers if any type of reaction is found.
“The ministry is currently in coordination with other regulatory bodies to review the regulations for the Omani halwa industry in line with the preservation of its quality and identity.”
“The ministry is considering the idea of gradually preventing them (plastics) in order to raise the level of variability and preserve the quality of the original Omani heritage.”