Friday, August 17, 2007

Chicken Shawerma

Collective punishment certainly describes the government’s reaction to this week’s unfortunate salmonella poisoning of over 200 people in Baqaa. This is one incident, one area, one case. It is too bad; it shouldn’t have happened, and wouldn’t have happened if the guidelines concerning food preparation, storage, and serving had been followed. But, it happened, and those responsible should be held accountable. I am sure that the incident was a reminder to all other licensed food outlets that sell chicken shawerma to review their standards and check their premises for cleanliness. Closing them all down will probably prevent another outbreak of salmonella for the time being, but it should be illegal for the government to punish everyone in this way. Anyone found to be in violation of correct food handling must be fined or censured by the government on an individual basis, not by some blanket order. I am shocked that there is no ‘due process’ and apparently little recourse open to licensed vendors. Those who operate within the law must have their rights respected. I find this collective punishment a bizarre kind of logic reminiscent of a tragic hit and run accident some years ago. A child was killed by the driver of a BMW. One comment I heard at the time was that the government should ban BMWs to be imported into Jordan and somehow that would lower the accident rate!



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