Food safety control is integral to assuring the quality and standards associated with the importation, production, processing, preparation and disposal of food products. Food safety control is particularly important because approximately 90% of the food in Qatar is imported. The rapidly growing population continues to place greater strain on food inspection services and port authorities, with the need to increase food imports in parallel with the need to continually manage and pre-empt the threat of potential outbreaks.

Health implications

Qatar experiences foodborne outbreaks every year with a variable number of causative organisms including e-coli, salmonella and typhoid food poisoning. As shown in the table below, the number of reported cases of food poisoning has risen steadily since the beginning of the century, though much of this rise may be due to the population growth.

Food Safety Objectives

The monitoring of food safety standards is the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Municipalities and Urban Planning, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Economy and Trade. This emphasizes the need for collaborative cross-sectoral policy development and decision-making to provide an effective Food Safety Framework for Qatar. The strategy’s Food Safety Objectives seek to raise awareness among the public about the health risks associated with consuming unsafe food. Additionally, a key focus of the objectives is the promotion of a strong food safety culture among all parties involved in the supply chain.

Figure 20: Food poisoning incidence in Qatar (2000-2015)
(Source: Communicable Diseases Control Framework (Draft) Qatar, January, 2015)

Food Safety Objectives

  1. FS1 Strengthen public awareness on food hazards and health risks associated with the consumption of unsafe food through the use of various effective forms of modern mass media communication channels
  2. FS2 Strengthen the capacities of the food safety management system to deliver services aligned to international best practice in all important operational areas such as inspection services, laboratory services, risk analysis, monitoring and surveillance and regulatory standards setting
  3. FS3 Establish an integrated Food Safety Authority aligned with international best practices standards to manage food safety through the entire food supply chain – from ‘farm to table’
  4. FS4 Develop an integrated risk-based inspection service certified to relevant international standards such as ISO/IEC 17020:2012 for imported, locally produced and exported food products that is supported by modern electronic management systems, effective diagnostic services, and, monitoring and surveillance systems
  5. FS5 Promote a food safety culture among all parties involved in the food supply chain through effective public-private sector partnership programs which aim to develop a heightened sense of awareness for taking responsibility for managing food safety risks