Muscat: Food safety remains a concern in Oman as more than 16,000 food safety violations were recorded by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR) in 2015 alone in Musandam, Al Wusta, Al Buraimi, North and South Al Batinah, Al Dhahirah, Al Dakhiliyah and North and South Al Sharqiyah governorates, while 8,172 warning letters were issued in the same year.
Topping the list
The North Al Batinah governorate topped the list with 4,350 violations.
However, fewer complaints on food safety are being received by the MRMWR thanks to stricter rules and heftier fines, said Fadhila Al Bahri, director of Preventive Health Management at the ministry.
Al Bahri was talking to the Times of Oman on the sidelines of the Food Safety and Traditional Foods Conference 2016, which kicked off on Tuesday at the Al Bustan Palace.
During the three-day event, Hamad bin Saif Al Gharibi, deputy minister of MRMWR quoted the World Health Organisation, saying that more than 200 diseases can spread through food.
“Based on the principle ‘prevention is better than cure,’ MRMWR has recently updated the health standards and regulations of all food places in the Sultanate, to sustain the highest standards of food quality,” Al Gharibi said.
Millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food.
According to WHO, diarrhoeal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are attributed to contaminated food or drinking water.
The conference started on April 12 under the patronage of HIs Highness Sayyid Kamel bin Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, assistant secretary-general for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs, and is set to conclude on April 14.
Being held for the third consecutive year, the conference aims to raise awareness about the importance of efficiency in production and expanding the scope of traditional food products and modern methods of marketing in the domestic and international markets while maintaining their identity, according to organisers, who also said that inviting international experts to such events will contribute to the exchange of knowledge, ideas and latest research achievements in the field of food safety and traditional food.
An exhibition showcasing latest studies and research on food safety and traditional foods was also launched at the hotel.
It is worth mentioning that MRMWR issued 34,290 permits for food-related activities in 2015 in Musandam, Al Wusta, Al Buraimi, North and South Al Batinah, Al Dhahirah, Al Dakhiliyah and the North and South Al Sharqiyah governorates.
The permits include 3,767 factories, 22,143 grocery stores, 2,442 restaurants and 5,938 coffee shops.
Of the mentioned areas, North Al Batinah received the highest number or permits at 7,563, including 616 for factories, 5,850 for shops and grocery stores, 401 for restaurants and 725 for coffee shops.