Lebanon health minister is focusing his campaign on contaminated spices


abou faourLebanon’s Health Minister Wael Abu Faour revealed on Tuesday that his food safety campaign is now focusing on spices which showed to be highly- the .

“Our campaign against food safety is expanding,” said Abou Faour in a press conference.

“Some spices have poisonous and cancer causing material, including aflatoxins,” he said.

Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, species of fungi. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known. After entering the body, aflatoxins may be metabolized by the liver to a reactive epoxide intermediate or hydroxylated to become the less harmful aflatoxin M1.

Aflatoxin chemical structure
Chemical structure of aflatoxin 

The ministry’s inspectors “will start taking samples from the spices arriving from abroad. We will also check them at mills,” Abou Faour stated.

He said he informed the governors to shut down violating institutions and dispose of the bad spices after listing their names.

Asked about the food poisoning case in the northern city of Tripoli over the weekend, Abu Faour said it was caused by kaak ( a special Lebanese pastry with sesame seeds) and cheese.

At least 10 people suffered food poisoning after they consumed cheese-filled pastries at the Abi Samra Vocational School on Saturday.

Abu Faur launched his food campaign last October which resulted in the closing of several restaurants , shops , warehouses and food plants .
During the same conference the health ministry’s director-general, Walid Ammar, denied that there are swine flu cases in Lebanon.

His denial came in response to reports that several people had died from the H1N1 virus.

But the minister also revealed that tap water at schools did not meet health standards.