In light of a government deficit, the “spoiled” food crisis besieges the Iraqi citizen[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Baghdad today - Baghdad
The phenomenon of foodstuffs that are unfit for human use is one of the chronic and uncontrolled crises due to the weak quality control and control that besieges the Iraqi citizen , with almost total dependence on imports in the public and private sectors.
The head of the Pharmacists Syndicate, Mustafa Al-Hiti, pointed out this dangerous file and caused a huge uproar, who made “frightening” press statements that led to popular and even parliamentary dissatisfaction, as he said in previous press statements, “All food supplies that enter Iraq are not examined, Including medicines, as the smuggling process is large in the country, and it is not known what food supplies come from it.”
He added, "About two months ago, cooperation took place between the Ministry of Health, the Pharmacists Syndicate, and the security forces, and the entry of medicines was controlled and put in the right direction, but the big problem now is food."
Iraqi markets are invaded by expired or near-expired foodstuffs, and their sale in commercial stores has caused many cases of poisoning to be recorded throughout the country, prompting the regulatory and security agencies to implement inspection campaigns to seize and destroy these materials.
Today, Tuesday (September 26, 2023), the Director of the Health Oversight Division in the Karbala Health Department, Dr. Ghaith Al-Awad, in an interview with “Baghdad Today”, about more than (seven and a half tons) of solid foodstuffs and (3000) liters of liquid foodstuffs, and the destruction was due to their expiration or failure in laboratory examination or damage as a result of poor storage, and this was done duly and in the presence of Those concerned, indicating that (46) stores were closed and financial penalties were imposed on (73) others for violating health conditions in various areas of the city, and we completed the examination of about (3500) chlorine points in various water desalination plants, and examined (275) food samples of materials. entering the governorate.
Last May, the National Security Service announced the seizure of about 200 tons of foodstuffs unfit for human consumption and others prohibited for circulation in local markets, and 16 accused of fraud, manipulation, and violating health conditions were arrested, explaining that “the seizure operations It took place in the governorates of (Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, and Al-Qadisiyah).”
Al-Hiti explained, "During the last thirty years, the Iraqi citizen has been exposed to various types of substances, not only carcinogenic, but even substances that are unfit for human consumption."
The head of the Pharmacists Syndicate stressed, “Therefore, there is a need to intensify efforts on food, and to establish the Supreme Food and Drug Authority, which is linked directly to the Council of Ministers, as in other countries of the world.”
Disable “Made in Iraq”
Economic researcher Bassam Raad, in previous statements, pointed out the decline of the production system and its inflexibility to respond to the increasing demand for goods and products in the local market, stressing that the Iraqi markets have become open and full of types of goods and products imported from abroad, about which nothing is known except their trade names, Large quantities of poorly made goods also influxed, and a rise in cases of industrial and commercial fraud was recorded through imitation of trademarks or marketing of goods with ingredients different from the substance whose ingredients are stated on the package or cover.
According to Raad, “Consumer Protection Law No. (1) of 2010 was enacted with the aim of protecting the Iraqi consumer from goods and products that may cause him health or economic harm, and to work to prevent the import of substandard goods and products.”
However, despite this, according to Raad, protecting consumers from the negative effects of industrial and commercial fraud requires collective efforts, in addition to the government effort represented by tightening the role of commercial, health and industrial regulatory bodies and the Central Organization for Standardization and Quality Control, and also working to develop consumer awareness among citizens through awareness-raising. Education and limiting the entry of poor, counterfeit and non-standard goods into the country.
As for the preservatives that are added to canned foodstuffs in metal, glass, or plastic containers, they are of three main types: substances that combat the growth of bacteria and fungi, substances that resist oxidation, and enzyme substances to prolong the life of the product, and they are included in the list of international specifications. Therefore, the difference between These specifications and their quantity are up to the research laboratories of each country, taking into account the conditions of the climatic environment and the opinion of the health authorities.
The Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives said in a previous statement, “The entry of many foodstuffs and agricultural, animal and plant products from border crossings without import licenses and their circulation in local markets is something that does not serve to encourage the local product and leads to its depression, especially since some of them are lower in price and quality as a result of smuggling operations.” In particular".
Greed of merchants
In this context, a member of the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce, Ali Al-Jumaili, explained that “there are random import operations taking place for these materials, and that many merchants and beneficiaries import foodstuffs that are close to expiring, in order to achieve great gains through them, because they are cheaper for them.”
Meanwhile, he criticized "the weakness of supervisory procedures and standardization and quality control devices that must subject all materials entering the country to examinations."
He also criticized "the monitoring and inspection campaigns relying on reports to implement their campaigns, at a time when there should be daily and sudden campaigns on markets and private stores of merchants, and violators should be held severely accountable."
As for the Doctors Syndicate, in the words of member Jaber Al-Ezzi in press statements, it stressed that “the regulatory authorities must carry out their duty, starting from the borders and ending with inspecting stores and markets on a daily basis, and dealing with everyone with moral responsibility, regardless of the other connections of merchants and market owners,” pointing out “Neglecting the file and not holding violators accountable is a contribution to endangering the lives of citizens.”
Preservatives not subject to controls
Food safety expert Hammam Al-Sharifi said that every company that produces preserved foodstuffs is obligated to have a detailed registration of preservatives, provided that they are digitally registered on a “bar code,” and are monitored against international conditions, according to what he said in previous press statements.
He continued, the standardization and control authorities take random samples of products in the markets, and in the event that a minor violation is discovered, a lawsuit is filed against the company in two parts, the first is civil, which is covered by insurance companies for monetary compensation, and the second is criminal, which leads to the imprisonment and detention of executives, especially if it is proven Charge of "manslaughter".
He continued, there are important commercial sections in advanced economies, which track products from the time they leave the factory and then enter the transportation system and then store them under specific environmental conditions, and sell them on the retail seller platform. This chain of control does not exist in many developing economies, especially since the commercial transfer process takes place using liquid cash and not digital cash through banks.
He continued, "Several factors add to our concern about preservatives in Iraq, including the arrival of canned materials from irregular origins with well-known health standards, as well as the weakness of the authority of standardization and control, the weakness of internal control, especially on canned goods of all kinds, and the inability to trace the path of canned materials from the border to the consumer."
He also touched on the poor environmental conditions of canned goods stores, including high temperatures and humidity levels, the spread of rodents and animals, exposure to sunlight, and the long period of transportation on wheels that are not designed for this type of food, all of which exacerbate public concern about food safety.
A senior government source, who requested to remain anonymous, confirms in statements to Arab media that, “The Kurdistan region’s ports do not comply with government directives regarding closing crossings with Iran, or those related to preventing the import of certain items, and they also deduct smaller amounts as customs tariffs, which makes our work useless.” “Almost because of the demand of merchants to bring their goods through these ports.”
The source stated that "a government committee of military personnel and civilian employees stopped about 500 trucks loaded with this material on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, more than 200 kilometers from the crossing through which these materials enter, which is the Pervez Khan border crossing in the Sulaymaniyah Governorate, within the Kurdistan region of Iraq." ".
According to the source, the control points spread across the road allow the passage of prohibited agricultural materials in exchange for “sums of money” paid as bribes to their members, adding that Baghdad “has begun to treat all shipments coming from Kalar in Sulaymaniyah Governorate as smuggled.”
The source says, "A government investigation conducted by the Iraqi Prime Minister and the Integrity Commission into how all these materials cross long distances without being stopped by the control points spread along the road has revealed the possibility of the involvement of high-ranking security officials in these violations, in addition to elements close to armed factions."
Among these many factors and the dangerous dimensions that affect the lives of citizens, the question arises about the impact of the state on daily life and the possibility of imposing its prestige and control over the imminent dangers that hinder the process of development and prosperity for a society that has been suffering since the economic blockade in 1991 until this day from neglect of the health and food sector and qualitative control.
Source: Baghdad Al-Youm + agencies