Hakim Rejects 'Circus' on Food Safety, Abou Faour Hails Media

Economy Minister Alain Hakim described on Monday a recent visit by him and Health Minister Wael Abou Faour to Beirut Port as a “media circus” although the latter dubbed the media as his main ally in his campaign for food safety.

“The visit to the wheat silos at Beirut Port turned out to be a media circus,” said Hakim during a press conference. “The media show is unacceptable.”

“Wheat is fine because silos are hermetically closed,” he said.

“Fighting corruption comes through solving important files, such as waste,” he stated in reference to Abou Faour's campaign, which he said required a “clear mechanism” to guarantee its continuity.

Hakim and the health minister have been at loggerheads since last week and have exchanged accusations over the campaign that Abou Faour launched late last year.

The health ministry lashed out at the economy ministry on Friday after it rejected any responsibility for expired sugar stored at Tripoli Port.

Abou Faour has also warned that the “Lebanese are sharing wheat with rats and pigeons” at Beirut Port.

Hakim denied on Monday that he rejected the disposal of expired sugar and mockingly said: “The rat was at the port and not in the silo.”

The health minister's clampdown has so far seen the closure of restaurants, slaughterhouses and other institutions for violating the standards.

Abou Faour snapped back at Hakim on Monday, saying following a tour to Tripoli Port that “the media is the main ally that stood by the food safety campaign and the citizen.”

Abou Faour hailed the port authorities for clearing tons of waste at the port and for carrying out work to stop rats from entering the silos.

But the minister said the depot where vast amounts of sugar are stored do not meet food safety standards.

“The sugar has expired and the depot's situation is catastrophic,” he said.

“Some of the expired sugar entered the Lebanese market” for consumption, Abou Faour added.

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