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Sat, 06/10/2023 - 23:35
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Qatar's MoPH Launches Training Program For Food Handlers Certification, Authorization

Doha, June 10 (QNA) - The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), in cooperation with Qatar Chamber and Qatar Tourism, launched the training program on the certification and authorization of food handlers, in conjunction with the celebration of World Food Safety Day. The program aims to oblige all food handlers and their supervisors at food facilities to obtain permits from the MoPH to practice their work, after passing the placement tests. The MoPH began introducing the program two years ago, where introductory sessions were organized with food institutions and companies in the Qatar Chamber, and the scientific material of the program was prepared and published on the Ministry's website, with company representatives being directed to register for the test through an electronic link. Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Director of the Public Health Department, MoPH, said that the Ministry cooperates with Qatar Chamber and Qatar Tourism to implement the program, believing in the importance of educating food handlers and their supervisors on ensuring food safety and thus contributing to enhancing the level of public health. It is noteworthy that the MoPH signed an agreement with the Qatar Chamber in the field of food safety as a realization of the principle of partnership and cooperation between the public and private sectors to achieve the public interest, particularly in the areas of local and imported foods compliance, public awareness of food safety, organizing training and conducting tests. Mohamed Ahmed Al Obaidly, Chair of the Food Security & Environment Committee Qatar Chamber, stressed that the Chamber responded to the initiative of the Ministry of Public Health and adopted the practical aspect of the program related to the logistical part by providing rooms equipped for tests within specific and clear controls that were agreed upon between the two parties and framed within the terms of the memorandum of cooperation signed with MoPH, based on the Chamber's belief that food safety is a shared responsibility among all relevant parties. Maryam Al Srour, Qatar Chamber Food Handler Program Team Leader, said that the memorandum of understanding signed between the MoPH and the Chamber facilitated the permit procedure, as the representative of the Food Establishment must register on the Qatar Chamber platform, booking a date for the test and filling in the required data, accompanied by the relevant documentation, and providing proof that he has received the training required for the level of the test provided, or an official book from the facility explaining the test applicant's competence. She added that upon successful completion of the test, the results are issued and made available on the electronic test system directly to the applicant by pressing the Present button. The validity of the food handling permit is three years, renewable under conditions set by the MoPH. Omar Al Jaber, Director of Shared Services at Qatar Tourism, said: "We are pleased to collaborate with the Ministry of Public Health and Qatar Chamber to launch the training program for food handlers, as part of our continuous efforts with our industry partners to provide the bests services to visitors to Qatar. Over the past few years, Qatar Tourism has launched a similar initiative with the Ministry of Public Health, 'Qatar Clean', which aims to ensure the highest standards of hygiene and sterilization are followed at hotel facilities that are accredited by Qatar Tourism." Wassan Abdullah Al Baker, Director of the Food Safety and Environmental Health Department at the MoPH, said that a multi-phase plan has been prepared to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the program, and the implementation of the program has been initiated through the pilot phase, which included a group of hotels hosting teams and official delegations during the 2021 Arab Cup and the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar as part of the efforts of the MoPH, Qatar Chamber, and Qatar Tourism to ensure the highest level of food safety for consumers, especially that Qatar will host many international sports events in the coming years. She added that the number of food handlers who participated in the pilot phase reached 1046 people, and the success rate in passing the test during this stage was estimated at average. This required submitting recommendations to enhance the training of workers to improve and raise the level of public hygiene and health requirements among workers and food handlers because of its direct impact on the safety and quality of meals provided. To facilitate the implementation of the program, food facilities are responsible for training food handlers they wish to register to obtain the permit. The Food Safety and Environmental Health Department at the Ministry of Public Health has also prepared the training materials for the program and published them on the MoPH website in 2022 in Arabic and English. Work is currently underway to publish the program in five other languages, and the total number of languages of the program will be seven languages. The Department also provided two levels of tests depending on the nature and type of permit required, as the first level concerns food handlers, and the second level concerns food handling supervisors. MoPH encourages food facilities to join the program, especially since it has become mandatory starting in June 2024. MoPH also stresses the need to train working food handlers, as many studies around the world have proven that food safety and compliance with health requirements at food facilities are directly related to the awareness of food handlers on the principles of food safety and hygiene. In addition, the training of workers has positive effects on the facility including reducing violations, penalties, and waste of resources. MoPH seeks to improve the level of food safety by following more than one scientific method and approach according to the best international practices in this regard. In addition to partnering with Qatar Chamber and Qatar Tourism, MoPH Food Safety and Environmental Health Department is working on signing memorandums of understanding with the competent authorities in food-exporting countries and has obtained international accreditations for all its inspection and analysis activities. MoPH is the competent authority to issue food handling permits in the State of Qatar, according to Amiri Decree No. 57 of 2021 on the appointment of the competencies of ministries, and Amiri Decree No. 36 of 2022 on the organizational structure of the ministry. (QNA)