As if Syria wasn’t confusing enough, it is now claimed that hundreds of boxes of moldy biscuits sent to Syria by the United Nations have caused widespread food poisoning.
The high-energy snacks were past their sell-by date when they were given out as humanitarian aid, a watchdog said today.
The UN, which has gone to great lengths to get aid and supplies to 4.6 million Syrians living in hard-to-reach areas, helped trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to reach the towns of Madaya and Zabadani near the Lebanese border earlier this month.
According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, consignments of biscuits that were delivered had passed their sell-by date in September and could be the only cause of an outbreak of food poisoning among almost 200 residents who came to makeshift hospitals.
The biscuits were “moldy and rotten” and had been poorly stored, the watchdog said in an online report.
In a statement, the UN said 320 out of 650 boxes of the biscuits sent to Zabadani and Madaya as part of a relief convoy on October 18 had expired in September but denied that eating them posed a threat to health.
“We can confirm that this was the result of an unfortunate human error during the loading process,” said Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria.
He added that workers and humanitarian partners in Syria were “taking the issue very seriously and working to immediately rectify the situation.”
Health Ministry inspectors confiscated Saturday large quantities of food distributed to Syrian refugees in south Lebanon after receiving complaints that they were emitting foul odors.
The food packages, which were donated to Syrian refugees through the Rahma and Ouzai charity centers in Sidon, were confiscated for testing, while Abu Faour referred the case to the judiciary.
Separately, the minister sent the ministers of finance, economy and public works a letter to demand the confiscation of large amounts of sugar stored in Tripoli’s port.
The request was based on skepticism that the sugar met safety standards.
Another reason to ignore discussions of genetically-engineered food:
Bashar al-Assad of Syria, where more than 33,000 people have been killed in 19 months of conflict, issued a law on GM food Thursday to preserve human life, state-run SANA news agency reported.
Assad, whose forces are locked in a bloody confrontation with armed rebels opposed to his rule, “has approved a law on the health security of genetically modified organisms… to regulate their use and production,” SANA reported.
The law is meant “to preserve the health of human beings, animals, vegetables and the environment,” the agency added.