Two dead, hundreds affected by chicken contamination in Jordan

Two dead, hundreds affected by chicken contamination in Jordan
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Updated 04 August 2020

Two dead, hundreds affected by chicken contamination in Jordan

Two dead, hundreds affected by chicken contamination in Jordan
  • The As-Salt attorney general’s office said that the owner of the warehouse that distributed the chickens has been remanded to the As-Salt prison for a week

AMMAN: When Abeer Saeed, 40 years old, and her family wanted a shawarma sandwich, they did not expect to end up in the local hospital. Saeed and her husband, two daughters and a niece live in Baqaa camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan.

Talking to Arab News from a hospital bed, she said that soon after eating the chicken shawarma, she felt feverish, with sharp pain and diarrhea. The same symptoms were experienced by all other family members as they headed to the local hospital only to find tens of others suffering from what was believed to be food poisoning.
Mohammad Abed, director of the local Prince Hussein hospital in Ain Al-Basha, told reporters that a 5-year-old child arrived at the hospital with major organ failure. A married man who was unable to find available hospital beds was sent home, but his condition deteriorated, and he passed away.
Prime Minister Omar Razzaz appointed a high-level investigative committee headed by several ministers, including Minister of Research and Higher Education Muhyieddeen Touq, president of the Jordan University of Science and Technology and deputy head of the Royal Scientific Society. The committee was given wide powers to investigate the cause of the problem and to recommend solutions.
Health Minister Saad Jaber said that the child, along with 700 others, had been affected by food poisoning after consuming contaminated chickens. The As-Salt attorney general’s office said that the owner of the warehouse that distributed the chickens has been remanded to the As-Salt prison for a week.
Nizar Mhaidat, head of Jordan’s Food and Drug Administration, said that lab tests showed that the uncooked chicken used for the shawarma sandwich was affected by Enterococcus faecalis and campylobacter/bacillus cereus bacteria.
Mhaidat said that food inspectors made 500 field visits in which 316 warnings were issued and 74 food enterprises were stopped. In addition, 23 locations were permanently closed with red wax as a result of serious food violations.

FASTFACT

Food inspectors made 500 field visits in which 316 warnings were issued and 74 food enterprises were stopped.

He added that 8,500 kg of unusable food have been destroyed and that 59 laboratory specimens were checked in locations throughout Jordan, concluding that the center involved in exporting meat and chicken was the main cause of the food poisoning in Baqaa. Jordan Food and Drug Administration officials confirm that they have no offices in the Baqaa area where the incidents occurred despite the fact that over 100,000 people live in a very cramped facility.
Senior health experts, however, have told Arab News that what happened was not food poisoning but rather contamination.
“What we have here is a clear case of food contamination, possibly as a result of a lack of supervision of the food chain,” a senior health source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Arab News.
The source said that Jordan’s food safety standards are compatible with international and, specifically, European standards. The problem appears to be with the partial relaxation of the supervision of the food chain, most likely because health inspectors are overburdened in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical experts in Jordan are confident that the current crisis will pass and that stricter supervision mechanisms will be installed to ensure that the public is protected.


Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
Updated 26 min 18 sec ago

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
  • First elections in 15 years “will usher in badly needed democracy”
  • The PA will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement of the first parliamentary and presidential elections in 15 years has raised hopes of an end to longstanding divisions, but skeptics doubt it will bring about serious change.
According to decrees issued by the presidential office on Friday, the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31.
Hanna Naser, head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, told a packed press conference a day earlier that the decrees will usher in a badly needed democratic process.
Naser said the elections will be transparent and will deliver a functioning legislative council, adding: “After 15 years without a legislative body, it is important to have accountability through a council elected by the people.”
Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah movement and a key force behind the election deal, said on Palestine TV that the decrees are a major breakthrough and reflect a Palestinian commitment to democratic principles.
Rajoub said that the elections commission will be responsible for all aspects of the poll, and that a meeting of all Palestinian factions next week in Cairo will help resolve any remaining issues.
Hussein Sheikh, minister of civil affairs and member of the Fatah Central Committee, tweeted that the presidential decrees are “an important step to strengthen democracy and partnership in a unified political regime that ensures the end of the split and will create a unified vision for a cooperative effort aimed at ending the occupation and accomplishing freedom and liberty for our people.”
Hamas welcomed the decrees, which include a commitment by all participants that the PLO represents Palestinians, and is responsible for foreign affairs and negotiations.
The decrees stipulate elections for a 132-member legislative council that will include Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on a full proportional basis.
Presidential elections will follow in July and the Palestine National Council will hold elections wherever possible for candidates in different locations. All lists must have a woman as the third and fourth candidates on the list, with at least 26 percent of the next council to be female.
However, Ghassan Khatib, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University and a former minister, told Arab News that while he strongly supports the elections, he is worried about the quality of the poll.
“I am concerned that the elections will reflect the wishes of the political elite since the lists will be national and will be made up by political leaders who might not give enough attention to local communities and their needs,” he said.
Khatib, who founded the Jerusalem Center for Communication Studies, said that polls show Fatah could win the coming elections if it can present a unified list.
Hani Masri, director of the Masarat think tank, said that holding elections before national reconciliation is complete is a “formula for trouble.”
“Issuing presidential decrees for elections before reconciliation is doing things in reverse order,” he said. “To have elections, the land mines must be removed. If we don’t address some of these problems, we are inviting trouble,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
One suggestion to overcome this issue has been that the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas, agree on a joint list and a single nominee for president.
Marwan Muasher, vice president of Carnegie Endowment for International Studies, told Arab News that national unity is a necessary first step.
“National elections serve to renew Palestinian legitimacy, which has been significantly affected,” he said.
Palestinians are also unsure if Israel will allow East Jerusalem residents to take part in the elections. Under the Oslo accords, Jerusalem residents can vote at local post offices.