Health control departments in municipalities across Qatar have lined have affirmed their readiness to inspect food establishments during the holy month of Ramadan.
The municipalities have prepared a comprehensive action plan to intensify campaigns and inspection tours, and ensure that health requirements are met by all food establishments and their workers.
Following are the steps being taken in different municipalities:
* Doha Municipality
Doha Municipality, represented by the health control department, has intensified inspection campaigns at all food establishments under its jurisdiction in preparation for Ramadan while focusing on complexes along with meat and poultry shops, restaurants, samosa shops and pastry stores, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) said in a statement.
Inspection in Doha Municipality
The department has continued with its efforts to monitor and inspect food establishments to ensure compliance with health standards and check the methods and safety of food preparation, processing, storage and display, as well as the safety of the containers and packages used. These are in addition to ensuring healthy practices among workers across all stages of the food supply chain, starting from production and transportation along with storage, packaging, preparation, display and handling.
* Al Sheehaniya Municipality
In Al Sheehaniya Municipality, the health control department has chalked out a work plan that includes intensified inspection campaigns at food establishments. The municipality started the campaign on April 1, inspecting restaurants, cafeterias, butcheries and commercial complexes. These were carried in a bid to ensure the safety of the products sold there as well as food items with special offers, along with the methods of foodstuff storage. Also inspected were stores selling meat, fish and poultry.
Inspection in Al Sheehaniya Municipality
As part of the campaign, inspections will be carried throughout Ramadan at shops selling samosas, fries, pies and pastries in addition to inspections at places used to store, prepare and sell sweets, nuts and chocolates ahead of Garangao. Besides, shops selling vegetables and fruits, as well as butcheries, will also be checked.
During Ramadan, the food control unit in the department will work in two shifts, and inspections will be carried from 9am until 2pm and again from 8pm until 1am.
The work of veterinary inspectors at the Al Sheehaniya slaughterhouse will be done from 5am to 4pm. Shops selling meat, fish and poultry in consumer complexes will be inspected.
Complaints will be received round the clock by the head of the health control department through the MME website. The municipality has urged all establishments to apply the required health standards and handle food properly, as well as monitor any violations while taking all Covid-19 precautionary measures, including adherence to proper clothes for workers and the use of masks and gloves.
The health control department at Al Sheehaniya Municipality carried out an inspection campaign at food establishments in Al Rayes, during which 20 establishments were covered. Workers at these stores were found complying with the necessary health requirements in the light of Covid-19.
* Umm Salal Municipality
While preparing for Ramadan, the health control department in Umm Salal Municipality has chalked out a plan to ensure quality and health control covering all food products and establishments in the municipality, the MME statement points out.
The initiative also aims to ensure the implementation of all Covid-19 precautionary measures by emphasising the wearing of masks and gloves and the use of hand sanitisers by workers at food outlets.
The municipality has deployed veterinarians at four slaughterhouses along with the central fish market to conduct checks there.
Also, a plan has been prepared to inspect food establishments and deploy specialised inspectors and veterinarians to carry out inspections at different times during the day.
Inspections will be carried out at butcheries, stores selling fish, poultry, vegetables and fruits, popular catering centres, shops that prepare and sell pastries and sweets, commercial complexes and food outlets such as restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops.
In March, the health control department carried out 1,207 inspection tours while issuing violation 34 reports and transferring seven reports to the police, among others. The checks also resulted in the closure of four violating shops.
During the checks, 7,684 carcasses were inspected in slaughterhouses while 10 were destroyed. Also, 39,528kg of fish was examined and 1,640kg destroyed after it was found to be unfit for human consumption.
* Al Khor and Al Thakhira Municipality
The health control department of Al Khor and Al Thakhira Municipality has intensified the inspection of food establishments in the municipality as part of its preparations for Ramadan.
In March, inspection tours resulted in the detection of 34 violations of the Law No 8 of 1990 on the regulation of human food control, and the administrative closure of eight violating shops and restaurants for varying periods in implementation of the food control law, the MME said.
The department's veterinarians and inspectors also carried out inspection tours that covered poultry and egg producing units as well as bottled water plants to ensure the quality of local products by inspecting all stages of production and storage and the extent of their compliance with the GCC standards and specifications. During these tours, 44 samples were collected and sent to the central laboratory in Doha for examination.
The tours covered a number of major shops to ascertain the health standards in place for displaying and storing food products, as well as butcheries and fish sections inside these stores to ensure the extent of their compliance with the law. The officials instructed workers in these establishments to adhere to the relevant health requirements and procedures.
The tours also covered vegetable and fruit stores, which were directed to follow proper storage and display procedures, as well as sweet shops and bakeries.
The monitoring of slaughterhouses and meat and fish shops has also been intensified to ensure the safety of the products and their suitability for human consumption.
* Al Daayen Municipality
As part of its preparations of Ramadan, the health control section in Al Daayen Municipality's municipal control department, carried out 440 inspection tours during 59 campaigns in March, which resulted in the issuance of 11 notices. Also, eight complaints were duly addressed and six product recall campaigns implemented.
The department continued with its inspection campaigns at restaurants and cafeterias. Some 53 campaigns were implemented in conjunction with the integrated and intensive public awareness programme prepared by the municipality’s awareness team.
During the campaigns, 90 food establishments were made aware of food safety basics while 47 samples were collected. Various cold and hot foods from these establishments were randomly collected and sent to the laboratory to ensure their suitability for human consumption.
Similar awareness campaigns will be carried out at the rest of the establishments during the year within the strategic plan of the department, in conjunction with the periodic inspection campaigns conducted at food establishments within the municipality.
The awareness team, in co-operation with the health control department of the municipality, conducted its intensive awareness campaign in February and March to educate staff at food establishments on safety measures and how to avoid food poisoning.
The campaign included lectures delivered at the municipality as well as in the food establishments.
* Al Wakra Municipality
The health control section in Al Wakra Municipality's municipal control department has intensified its inspection campaigns in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan.
According to the MME statement, 1,443 field inspection tours were carried out at food establishments in March that resulted in the detection of 37 violations of the food control law.
Inspection in Al Wakra Municipality
Also, 17,780 carcasses were inspected at the automatic slaughterhouse, with 526 of these being fully destroyed and several others being partly destroyed. During the checks, 452.5 tonnes of fish were examined at the fish market, resulting in the destruction of 290kg of fish that was found unfit for human consumption.