Where is Lebanon on Food Safety?
Food safety remains a major economic and public health concern in Lebanon and across the region. Over the last 10 years the few national studies that have been carried out have served to shed some light on the main foodborne diseases and microbiological and chemical hazards identified in many Lebanese products.
Professor Rabih Kamleh at the Department of Environmental Health (ENHL), Faculty of Health Sciences has conducted a study of the current food management system in Lebanon. His analysis indicates that too many public institutions are involved in food control in Lebanon. As a result these institutions are effectively redundant; there is no system for inspections; a scheduled inspection program is totally absent; the overall system does not conform to any known standards; and there is no accountability.
In 2002, a scientific committee established by late former minister Basil Fuleihan submitted a food safety law proposal to the Council of Ministers. The proposal recommended the establishment of a single government institution to govern all food safety stakeholders and adopt risk analysis for assessment, management and communication. The law also recommended the implementation of different food safety management practices and systems in all food establishments in Lebanon including: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Good Hygienic Practices (GHPs), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.
In 2006, the law was debated in the council of ministers and sent to parliament for further discussion but there has been no action since. Recent food scare scandals across Lebanon have served to revive the issue and Professors Kamleh and Mey Jurdi (ENHL) are working with decision makers to lobby for implementation of the long awaited food safety law.