Food scandal: Food poisoning rate in Lebanon lowest, says tourism minister


Minister Michel PharaonLebanese Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon commented Monday in a press conference on the recent food scandal by stressing that the rate of food poisoning in Lebanon is lower than any other country.

He assured the citizens that his ministry , like others is responsible for hygiene, and there is no conflict with the Ministry of Health on this issue but he stressed that salmonella for instance cannot be fully eliminated .

“Coordination exists between the ministries of economy, industry, health, environment and municipalities as well as with Prime Minister Tammam Salam,” on the food safety issue and the rate of food poisoning in Lebanon is lower than any other country. ” He said and added:

“We are in favor of full transparency, but we feel like we were ‘deceived’ because the food safety situation in Lebanon is good and better than other countries. We apologize to tourists, but more importantly, any of the Ministry of Health staff is ready to apologize to the Lebanese citizens for the public sector’s failures throughout the years?”

Pharaon , an outspoken critic of the Health Ministry’s campaign commented on Health Minister’s revelations about food safety issue ,by saying:

“Minister Abu Faour fulfilled his duties but this file is taking a different path and we urge media institutions to be transparent,” he said and added: “I am proud of the tourism sector and I cannot accept distorting its image as it constitutes 10% to 20% of the GDP.”

Meanwhile Officials from all levels of government took measures Monday to try to regulate the food industry, in response to the ongoing food scandal that has gripped the country since last week

Agricultural Minister Akram Chehayeb announced new measures to step up food monitoring. During a meeting Monday, Agriculture Ministry officials discussed ways to intensify inspections and monitoring over both imported and locally produced animal and vegetable products.

Beirut governor Ziad Shebib visited the notorious Karantina slaughterhouse and issued clear instructions to the staff on the necessary precautions to protect public health. These instructions included directives on sanitizing the building and equipment.

Head of the Slaughterhouse Directorate Joseph Mounem, along with several members of the Beirut Municipal Council, accompanied Shebib on the visit. Mounem insisted that meat traders and butchers were to blame for the contaminated meat epidemic. He stressed that the e slaughterhouse is cleaned and disinfected daily by the Beirut municipality and all waste associated with the animals – feces, corpses, bones etc. – was treated.

This development comes after Abu Faour revealed horror stories last week about food safety in Lebanon and disclosed that some of the most popular restaurant chains and supermarkets are serving customers food that that is unsafe .

“I regret saying that the Lebanese don’t know what they’re eating, and if they did it would be a great disaster,” Abu Faour said at a news conference held at his ministry on November 13.

On November 15 the health minister announced that he took action against violators.

“Major butcheries were shut down and we’ll take measures against firms selling unhealthy water,” he stressed during a press conference.

The Agriculture Ministry also took action by blacklisting a foreign meat company for selling Lebanon contaminated meat, Minister Chehayeb said last Friday.