Recently, Muscat Daily published this story on melamine contamination in meats in Oman, but it seems no one has really quite "got" it and is taking this seriously. The results published are considerably alarming, especially when melamine levels found in chicken locally obtained from the market here have registered levels in the range of 25.6-73mg/kg. The accepted industry norm is 0.015mg/kg (according to the article) which means in certain cases, the melamine content was over 5000 times the accepted limit. In total, 50% of poultry products tested were contaminated with more than the maximum permitted limit of melamine.
The report in the Muscat Daily stated that meat products tested were from local, regional and international suppliers, but failed to name and shame the brands that had these potentially lethal levels of melamine. In 2008, there was a scandal in China that broke, resulting in 6 infant fatalities and over 850 babies hospitalized and a predicted 300,000 people affected by melamine contamination in food, but mainly milk. So it's a fairly big deal if you regularly eat chicken - if it's contaminated with melamine.
The report is fairly vague on solid facts though - are fresh chicken products safe to eat, are the contamination levels found mainly in frozen and processed products? It's not clear. The study conducted is not dated, and so it's not abundantly clear when these tests were carried out. However, most frustratingly, products and brands were not named and shamed in the report, leaving the reader (well at least me) thoroughly confused and unsure whether I should consider continuing to have chicken in my regular diet.
I contacted Muscat Daily to ask them which brands were the worst offenders, and which were the best, and the response back to me is that the journalist who wrote the article asked the very same question to the Ministry of Health, but they refused to give any details. W.T.F.
Food safety here in Oman has a long history of being abused - we all know stories of buying products only to find they are moldy, or even seeing clearly unfit to eat meat being presented at deli counters in the past. Fridges also are fairly commonly discussed as not cooling products to the correct temperature, and continual freezing, thawing and re-freezing of products is common place as well. One really does wonder whether these test results from SQU are accurate or not, and if so, why on earth nothing has been done by the authorities.
If local suppliers of meat products don't like it, I would suggest they employed an impartial 3rd party to test and certify their products. What do you think?