A trip to the supermarket here, in Kurdistan, reveals the selection of dairy products available (1) and, in particular, the range of cartons of milk. The consumer in Kurdistan can chose milk from both the neighbouring states and the small countries of the Gulf, but not locally produced milk, and all are formed from dried cow’s milk that has been mixed with water. Most of these products have ‘Natural Milkحليب طبيعي’ or even ‘100% Natural Milk حليب طبيعي 100%’ written on them yet in the process of drying fresh milk some of the nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B12 and thiamine are lost and the reconstituted product does not contain these therefore as the product was made from powdered milk it is not the same as the milk that came from the cow’s udder..
I have frequently raised my concerns over the lack of food safety regulations and monitoring in Iraq and Kurdistan. We are all too ready to take for granted that food safety checks are done at the place of origin of the food, wherever in the world that might be, and so put ourselves at risk. The Ministry of Trade should make sure of the origin, contents and safety standards of all food entering the country. The various milk products in the supermarkets should be tested to determine the exact contents, is it fresh or reconstituted milk, what are the nutrient contents, are the contents free of pathogenic bacteria, is the storage of the product correct etc. We should not accept the products at face value. The Lebanon has a dedicated food safety and standards authority to maintain checks on all food products produced within the country or imported yet here we are prepared to rely on foreign companies. The attached advert(4) that has been published for many weeks in Iraqi newspapers tells food importers that they should now have their imports checked by the SGS company instead of Bureau Verits, both being foreign companies. If a small country like Lebanon has the facilities and organisation to regulate and monitor food safety and, in addition, have a union for its food safety scientists then surely Iraq can do the same if not better. Iraq had its first modren agricultural college over 60 years ago and we have a dozen veterinary colleges so, in other words, we have a wealth of trained people who could be utilised in the much needed food safety agency.