Safety lab plan for Gulf

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BAHRAIN could soon host a regional lab aimed at improving food safety in Gulf countries. It is part of a major campaign being discussed at a meeting of Gulf port food officials, which opened in Dubai yesterday.

It reviewed the allocation of different ports in the Gulf for specific tests for the whole region, said Health Ministry's food hygiene head Abdulla Baqer.

"Our food lab in Bahrain is ideal for microbiological tests on meat, chicken and fish," he said.

"Once a lab is assigned for a specific test, we shall consider it as a regional lab."

The official is accompanied by Bahrain ports' food imports chief Faisal Dhaif at the Dubai meeting.

"We are studying which Gulf country's lab is suitable for a specific test so that the same test will not be repeated in other ports," Mr Baqer told the GDN, speaking from Dubai.

"We have already carried out some preliminary studies and identified some labs for certain tests.

"For example, the Dubai municipal laboratory is ideal for microtoxin tests.

"This test on food items like potatoes is important to prevent the prevalence of cancer causing substances."

He said a lab in the northern port of Saudi Arabia was equipped to carry out tests for pesticide residue in food, especially fruits and vegetables.

"The certificate issued by one Gulf country will be accepted by the other country," he said.

The decision will prove a great boon to exporters, added Mr Baqer.

"They can send their food item first to the Gulf state which has the facility for carrying out the required tests," he said.

"It will save time and costs involved.

"The move will also help us to use more manpower for inspection purposes." Mr Baqer said the new project would come into force by the first quarter of next year.





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