KUWAIT: Kuwait is still importing fruits and vegetables from Syria, despite suspicions that they might be contaminated after the chemical attacks in the country. Ala’ Abu Naser from the management of Alforda at the biggest fruit and vegetable market in Sulaibiya said that they haven’t received any instructions from the Ministry of Health to stop importing fruits and vegetables from Syria. “We still have fruits and vegetables coming from Syria and even today, we received a fresh stock.
The inspectors at the Customs Department and at the municipality keep a check on imported food stock to make sure it’s not spoiled and doesn’t pose a health risk,” he told the Kuwait Times yesterday. “In case of chemical contamination of fruits and vegetables, I think they need to take samples to the Ministry of Health lab and have them tested.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is involved and should play a role in banning Syrian products from entering Kuwait. We still don’t have inspectors from the Ministry of Health visiting but they are expected shortly,” added Abu Naser. A source from the Kuwait municipality told an Arabic daily yesterday that the facilities available at the laboratories aren’t good enough to test all the fruits and vegetables which are imported and said that the checking is only “external”. The source also mentioned that other countries also import fruits and vegetables from Syria which are exported to Kuwait and the source of origin will be completely unknown. Saleh Al-Kanderi, a member of the Food Safety Committee noted that the municipality only inspects “visually”.
“We are dealing with the Ministry of Health’s laboratory to examine the food stocks. We are not authorized to ban selling or importing any fruits or vegetables from Syria unless we receive an official letter from the Ministry of Health stating that these products are not suitable for human consumption,” he pointed out. Dr Fahad Al-Anezi, Head of Pediatric department at Jahra Hospital assured people that the fruits and vegetables imported from Syria don’t pose a danger to health upon consumption. “Usually chemical weapons use sarin gas and its effects wear off after some time. Phosphate also tends to weaken after a few days.
These imported products need about 10 days at least to reach Kuwait from Syria by which time, the effects would have disappeared. Even if the consumer is a child, the worst side effect would be diarrhea, vomiting or stomach ache. The residents of the area may be affected by these products but washing the fruits and vegetables will be enough,” he pointed out.
By Nawara Fattahova