Browsing 'food' News

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To keep popular groceries affordable during a busy shopping season, Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has instituted price caps on 418 products throughout Ramadan.

Since Sunday, stores have been prohibited by law to charge more than a set amount for certain types of rice, flour, milk, yogurt, meat, soap, jam, dried fruit, frozen products, cheeses and other items.

Here’s the full list of products, in English and Arabic.

Al Meera is taking that idea a step further. It has pledged once again to sell more than 1,400 items at cost-price to consumers who shop at most of its stores.

Easing the burden

The prices will remain in effect throughout the month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this weekend.

In a statement, the MEC explained that grocery shopping surges some 25 percent during Ramadan, and this annual price cap initiative helps “ease the burden” on customers.

Lesley Walker / Doha News

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Usually, ministry prices for the listed items come out to 10 percent less than their usual cost.

This is the seventh year that the government has set maximum prices for basic food and non-food goods during Ramadan.

The month is a time when Muslim families cook large meals to share with relatives, friends and neighbors, as well as those in need.

The MEC added that it would be stepping up inspections in the coming weeks.

Consumers who spot violations of any kind in restaurants and stores can call 16001, email [email protected] or reach out the ministry on Twitter, Instagram or via its mobile app.

Thoughts?

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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Food outlets in Qatar should expect more inspections in the run-up to and during Ramadan, which kicks off next month, officials have said.

Speaking to the Peninsula, a government representative said the inspections will be done by the health ministry, as well the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce.

He continued:

“During the initial days of Ramadan, we will focus more on supermarkets and restaurants while during the middle of the month, we will focus on shops selling Garangao treats including nuts, dried fruits, chocolates and during the last phase of the month, we focus on abattoirs.”

The inspections are needed because employees tend to rush to meet demand and may “not give proper attention to the health standards and requirements,” he added.

Omar Chatriwala

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Muslims follow a lunar calendar, so the exact start of Ramadan won’t be announced until closer to the end of next month.

However, the first day of fasting is expected to be around Saturday, May 27.

And Eid Al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the month, is estimated to start on June 25, Al Jazeera reports.

Avoiding food poisoning

During the daylight hours in Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and other pleasures.

They then break their fasts at sundown, and continue this tradition daily for about a month.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Despite the focus on abstention, Ramadan tends to be a social time, as workplace hours are shortened by law for almost everyone.

Additionally, restaurants and cafes that are closed during the day stay open late at night.

To avoid food poisoning and stomach ailments such as indigestion, authorities recommend people do not overeat after breaking their fasts.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to the Peninsula, the government official also advised:

  • Avoiding shopping when hungry;
  • Frequenting busy instead of empty supermarkets;
  • Double-checking products’ expiration dates before buying; and
  • Not leaving food in the car for a long time.

Are you excited about Ramadan? Thoughts?

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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Qatar will not be instituting any bans on certain produce from Arab countries, as the UAE has recently announced plans to do.

But some consignments of produce will meet increased scrutiny when it comes into the country, local officials have said.

In a circular sent to ports across Qatar, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) ordered that shipments of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, Oman, Egypt and Jordan only be released after undergoing a pesticide analysis, the Peninsula reports.

The move comes after the UAE announced this week that it would soon be banning produce from those four countries, as well as Yemen.

What’s banned

Effective May 15, the UAE has blacklisted these products for having unacceptably high levels of pesticide:

  • All varieties of peppers from Egypt;
  • Peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, squash, beans and aubergine from Jordan;
  • Apples from Lebanon;
  • Melons, carrots and watercress from Oman; and
  • All types of fruit from Yemen.

Any other produce from these countries will be accepted if they are certified to have met certain standards, UAE officials said.

The announcement has raised concerns about increased prices for produce in the Emirates, but also drew praise for protecting residents.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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For its part, Qatar’s MOPH has demurred on instituting any blanket bans.

In a statement this week, it instead emphasized the strong measures it has in place to ensure the safety of food imports.

The ministry added that 510 samples of produce were tested for insecticides during the first quarter of this year.

Only some 67 of them were rejected due to high levels of the chemicals.

Ray Toh

A farm in Qatar.

As a desert nation, Qatar imports the vast majority of its food. However, it has been decreasing its reliance in recent years.

For example, a 2015 government report stated that the country grew nearly 24 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in Qatar in 2013. That’s up from 15 percent in 2009.

Thoughts?