First Nation-Wide Analysis of Food Safety and Acceptability Data in Lebanon
The challenges to food safety in Lebanon are numerous and have coalesced to pose a serious public health concern. This is evident in well-documented food poisoning outbreaks and adulteration cases. In response, the Lebanese government initiated an unprecedented food safety campaign (2015–2017) that aimed to test food samples that were randomly collected from foodservices and industries across the country. The data were made available publicly, but they were never analyzed to prioritize and
... prioritize and determine high risk foods and most prevalent contaminants nationally or across governorates. To answer these questions, we performed an in-depth statistical analysis of the data, which included 11,625 individual food samples. Our analysis showed that water (55% of tested water samples), spices (49.3%), red meat (34.4%), poultry (30.9%) and dairy (28.3%) were the main foods associated with the highest rejection rates. The most common biological contaminants detected in rejected foods were sulfate-reducing bacteria (34.7%), Escherichia coli (32.1%), coliforms (19.6%), Staphylococcus aureus (12.8%), and Salmonella (11.6%). We conclude that Lebanon needs rigorous and sustainable programs to monitor the quality and safety of foods. Given the lack of resources, we recommend putting emphasis on extensive outreach programs that aim at enhancing food safety knowledge from farm to fork.