Muscat, Oct 16 - The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has termed illegal the practice of using plastic containers for transferring hot candy from the hot boiling pots. MoCI, which said it was following up reports in the media about the use of plastic for transferring Omani sweets from the boiler, said it was punishable under the law.
Eng Sami Salem al Sahib, Director-General of the Directorate General of Standardization and Metrology, said that Standard No 21 on health requirements indicated the possibility of using plastic materials provided they conform to specifications and are free of materials harmful to the health and safety of the consumer.
The plastic used should be scratch-resistant and free of phenol or formaldehyde or any substances that affect the properties of the foodstuff.
“All surfaces coming in contact with food should be non-toxic and not produce unacceptable odour/ taste,” said the statement.
This is in addition to meeting sanitary/ hygiene conditions of workers like wearing gloves and face/ head caps to prevent contamination of processed food and other requirements contained in Standard 21.
Al Sahib said the plastic products manufactured in Omani factories are of high quality and free from toxic substances such as phenols and formaldehyde.
He said that the makers of sweets, when buying/ importing plastic containers, should ensure they conform to standard specifications related to food containers and are suitable for food/ sweets, and provide proof of the same.
Al Sahib said the ministry is in coordination with the ministries and government institutions for verification of these packages.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry called on candy factories to focus on the use of containers made of pottery, glass and treated wood instead of plastic containers, even if they have approved specifications, although there are small and medium-sized enterprises producing pottery with high quality and excellent designs.
The ministry will continue its procedures for verifying the containers used in candy factories and their suitability for packaging.
It will take a decision in coordination with other regulatory bodies such as the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP).
The ministry is currently in coordination with the other regulatory bodies to review regulations and legislation related to the Omani pudding industry vis-a-vis quality.
The Omani Standard No 1635 for Omani Sweets was issued in 2004 in order to preserve the characteristics of Omani sweets.
Article (5) says the product shall be packaged in clean, dry and suitable containers that can be locked so they do not lead to contamination or changes in the characteristics of the product.
There are Oman Gulf standard requirements for food packages such as Standard No. 839 for food packages and No. 1863 for packages of materials.
Al Sahib said while the standards do not prevent the use of plastic packaging complying with the aforementioned conditions, the ministry is considering the idea of preventing it gradually in order to raise the level of packaging and preserve the quality of original Omani heritage.