`Olive Oil Scandal in Lebanon Leads to Calls for Reform

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Olive Oil Scandal in Lebanon Leads to Calls for Reform

Mar. 29, 2011
Umut Egitimci

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Despite all the ben­e­fits of olive oil, it can stil be risky to eat in Lebanon where recently the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry and Con­sumers Lebanon reported that there were sev­eral olive oil brands on the mar­ket con­tain­ing toxic chem­i­cals. Also con­firmed by the head of Con­sumers Lebanon, Zuheir Berro, were reports that show a lack of mon­i­tor­ing in Lebanese law that caused the fake olive oil issue in the mar­ket. Zuheir Berro said sev­eral olive oil pro­duc­ers in Lebanon were adding cer­tain chem­i­cal ingre­di­ents like ben­zopy­rene and acrolein dur­ing the extrac­tion stage of olive oil pro­duc­tion, which cre­ate a great risk for human health.

The state­ment made by the National Com­mit­tee for Oils and Fats (NCOF) in Lebanon noted that the risks of the toxic chem­i­cals used in the tainted olive oils could increase chances of can­cer. NCOF warned the pub­lic by say­ing that the brains of chil­dren may be per­ma­nently harmed from con­sum­ing such oil prod­ucts because fats present in such oils will, in the long run, sub­sti­tute the healthy fats of the brain”.

While both NCOF and Con­sumers Lebanon called for the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry to mon­i­tor imported and locally pro­duced oil prod­ucts closely, Par­lia­ment Mem­ber Atef Maj­dalani held a press con­fer­ence address­ing the issue of fake olive oil. Maj­dalani called to put forth a draft law on food secu­rity because of the dan­ger­ous scan­dals about food prod­ucts in Lebanon namely coun­ter­feited olive oils pre­sent­ing high risks of can­cer dis­eases. This law-draft orders to form an inde­pen­dent com­mis­sion to con­trol the food pro­duc­tion’s cycle in all its stages.”

Mean­while, the Daily Star reported today that New label­ing laws for olive oil will indeed be intro­duced in response to the scan­dal. All [olive oil farm­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers] that do not hurry to reg­is­ter presses and fac­to­ries will be con­sid­ered to be [vio­lat­ing the law],” Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Hajj Has­san said at a news con­fer­ence.

The pro­posed law would require glass pack­ag­ing, ori­gin label­ing, and the bot­tling date. A new set of stan­dards and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram would be put in place. Despite broad sup­port among the par­ties, the reforms are not expected to be rat­i­fied until a new gov­ern­ment takes place later this year.

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