A new rule issued in July, asking bakeries, restaurants and other outlets to phase out the use of plastic or any printed material for packing or

serving hot food items within 90 days, is yet to be enforced, Gulf Times inquiries found yesterday.

The order was issued by the National Food Control Committee at the Supreme Council of Health. In July, the health authorities decided to activate Cabinet Decision (No. 1 of 2009) on food packaging after having found that hot items cause chemical components in plastics to leach into food whose consumption may lead to health problems.

Toxic chemicals in plastics could lead to diseases like cancer, birth defects, hormone changes, respiratory problems, gastric ulcers as well as eye and liver problems. Restaurants serving tea, coffee and other hot beverages were also asked to stop serving them in plastic, foam or cork cups after the 90-day deadline.

The use of plastic bags for packing pastry products that are not frozen as well as the use of plastic plates and other utensils have also been banned in eateries. Qatar was to become the first country in the region to prohibit the use of plastics to serve hot food after the ban has become effective in many developed countries.

Translucent paper conforming to the country standards (GSO 458/1994) that must not be coloured, have ink or any kind of graphics on it had been recommended as a replacement for plastic by the committee. However, since five months after the announcement was made, inquiries with some of Doha’s top bakeries yesterday revealed that virtually all bakers were still  using plastic to wrap bread and other pastries including the Arabic bread (khubz).

“Since we last read in the news about the plan to ban plastic bags, we are yet to receive any official notification from the authorities as to when the ban will become effective and what the alternative should be,” a bakery supervisor told Gulf Times yesterday echoing views by representatives of other outlets.

Some of the spokesperson had earlier voiced concern over the ban saying it could  increase prices of bread and other  products, especially khubz, which is sold for QR1 for a packet of 10 pieces. Speaking earlier about the ban, which is already in force in many developed countries,  the Public Health Department director Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani, had promised to send a notification through the municipality to the affected outlets saying they would have enough time to get used to the change.

“We are giving them up to three months’ grace period to source the material and to decide on how they would make use of it to suit their products,” he had said. He also mentioned that the authorities planned to launch a major adverts campaign.
Efforts by Gulf Times to get an update on the ban from the concerned officials were not successful.


Source : www.gulf-times.com

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