Qatar recalls saffron, raisin from local markets

January 6, 2011

Qatar’s authorities have urged the recall of all stocks of saffron and raisin in the local market after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of harmful substances and additives in most samples of the products.

“Laboratory tests conducted on samples of the two food products have shown that they didn’t comply with the GCC standards and specifications,” Dr Mohammad Al Thani, director of the Public Health Department at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

More than 77 per cent of the samples of saffron were found to be containing harmful colours, creams and paints that are added to increase brightness to the product. These samples did not comply with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) specifications No: GSO/3632-1/20007.

Laboratory tests also proved that 80.50 per cent of the samples of raisin contained some hydro-carbonic substances that are added to give more polish and freshness to the product. They failed to comply with the GCC specifications No: GSO/1034/2000, the authorities said.

All the customs posts have been alerted to intensify monitoring on the new shipments of raisin and saffron and not to release any consignments before conducting laboratory tests on the samples.

Saffron is an expensive spice that is used to add colour and fragrance to dishes, while raisin is commonly consumed as a dry fruit.

The decision to recall the products was taken jointly by the SCH, the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Business and Trade and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.

The SCH has called on all traders and importers to comply with the unified GCC standards and specifications related to the two food products.

However, several traders, according to The Peninsula, said they had not yet received any orders from the authorities to recall the products.

A retailer said saffron was mostly imported from Iran and Spain, while raisin comes from a number of countries. Although the authentic variety of saffron is very costly, low-priced and low-quality varieties are also available in the market.

Raisin is also available in different varieties and the prices have more than doubled over the past few years.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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