Muscat: At a time when demand for vegetables has soared in the month of Ramadan, officers at the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) seized 27,000kg of rotten potatoes from a dump site in Birka town, about 170km north of Muscat.
“We have arrested, with the cooperation of the Royal Oman Police, a number of expatriates while they were loading the sacks of rotten potatoes in a van,” said Ahmad Al Zedjali, Director at PACP’s South Batinah Unit, adding that their inquiries revealed that the consignment was being prepared for distribution to restaurants and cafes as well as to some shops in the area.
“The seized potatoes were not fit for human consumption and yet the accused were preparing to deliver them to eateries and shops,” he said. Al Zedjali added that after preliminary inquiries the accused were handed over to the Public Prosecution for legal action. He also pointed out that the distribution was not meant only for Birka town but for other towns also.
He stressed that such practices regularly exposed by PACP affirm the danger posed to society by the actions of a few greedy expats, who only think about profit without any moral scruples or conscience. “Such acts by expatriates, who are only looking at quick gains, not only negatively impact our economy but also affect the health of our citizens,” he said.
According to him, the suspects confessed that they had chosen the dump site for distribution of rotten potatoes to avoid scrutiny by the authorities. Meanwhile, another PACP team in North Batinah confiscated 250kg of meat unfit for human consumption. “Our team raided a farm at midnight and found eight refrigerators filled with meat that was unfit for human consumption,” said Abdul Rahman Salem Bin Hamdan Al Qasimi, PACP’s Director in North Batinah.
“The whole process of cleaning and packing meat was carried out at the farm, which was filthy and full of flies and other insects,” he revealed.
Al Qasimi further pointed out that under interrogation, the defendants admitted that the meat was procured after illegal slaughter and was meant to be distributed to restaurants in the Batinah province.
He said that tests by veterinarians revealed that the meat was not suitable for human consumption. “The storage was unhealthy and remnants of livestock were found along with the frozen meat, which was also stacked without proper packaging.”
He urged consumers to be cautious while buying meat from certain illegal expatriate vendors. “The consumer must know the source from where the meat is procured before buying,” he stressed.
He asked those catering food to the public to be careful in procuring meat and avoid buying from street vendors for the safety of their customers.