Over 100 tests taken randomly from bakeries across Libya found no evidence of the presence of the carcinogenic additive potassium bromate in bakeries, Economy and Trade Minister Mohamed Hwej reported in the televised cabinet meeting on Monday. These negative test results included a sample sent to a laboratory in Germany, he added.
Commenting on the matter at the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba stressed the need to take legal measures against those who do not comply with the decision to ban the use of potassium bromate issued by the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
Assistant Director of the Media and Relations Department of the Municipal Guard, Tawfiq Al-Kawshali told Libyan media more than 200 bakeries were closed and about 300 workers were referred to the Public Prosecution in an inspection campaign on bakeries in several Libyan cities over the last four days.
Most of the bakeries that were closed down did not comply with the health requirements in their work, and the expatriate workers in most of them did not have health certificates.
He said some of the violating bakeries were given a warning, and some were closed for not complying with the repeated warnings
He stressed that the campaign is still ongoing, and will include all municipalities according to the instructions of the Public Prosecution, in cooperation with the Internal Security Agency, environmental sanitation inspectors and the Food and Drug Control Centre.
No evidence of potassium bromide in eastern Libya either
The head of the Bakers Union in the eastern region, Mahmoud Al-Araibi, reported that the campaign to inspect bakeries was launched in Benghazi 3 days ago, and it is still ongoing.
He reported that several violations related to poor hygiene and lack of health certificates were seized in several bakeries, and they were immediately closed. Bakeries that follow the correct and non-violating requirements continue to operate.
However, all samples taken from the bakeries in the eastern region are completely free of potassium bromate, he reported.
Complaints of rough handedness against bakeries
It must be reported, however, that there are reports that many bakeries were closed for no justifiable reasons. Head of the Bakers Syndicate, Ekhrais Mohamed, accused the authorities of showboating in the face of the big public furore in reaction to the alleged potassium bromide crisis. The government is accused of taking it out on the bakeries to save its face and regain public confidence.
Bakery closures lead to queues and bread shortage
Ironically, the move by the Libyan authorities to clamp down on non-conforming bakeries has led to a bread shortage and bread queues with so many bakeries forced to shut down until they resolve their infringements.