'Donkey meat' on Saudi Arabian airline?

Airline official says some of the imported meat served is diseased or donkey flesh

Saudi Arabian Airlines could have served its passengers donkey meat, ignoring warnings by a local government food control body that imported meat from Tunisia could be diseased or is donkey meat.

A Saudi Airlines executive made the accusations in a television interview this week, prompting many Saudis to write to local newspapers calling for the prosecution of those responsible for such an act.

Abdullah Al Bubou, a senior inspector at the supply division in the Airlines, said Saudi Arabia’s General Food and Drugs Authority had repeatedly warned the airlines to stop import of foodstuffs from Tunisia and serving them on its aircraft following reports on the spread of diseases among cattle in that Arab country.

“There were also reports about widespread sale of donkey and horse meat in Tunisia….but the Saudi Arabian Airlines did not heed that warning,” Bubou said in the interview on Rotana Khaleeji television.

“This has prompted the Authority to stop all the meat and other food items imported by the airlines from Tunisia…but after nearly one month, these food items appeared on board Saudi aircraft, including meat without certificates of origin… the stuff could be diseased or donkey meat… the problem is that they (Saudi Airlines) started to opt for foodstuffs that are about to expire as they are cheaper,” he said, quoted by Saudi Arabic language newspapers.

Bubou, a Saudi, blamed newly-appointed non-Saudi officials in the airline for such acts, which he said served their interests.

“As a result, the quality of food served aboard Saudi Arabian aircraft has largely declined over the past few months and has become almost unfit for human consumption… but as you see, they still insist on serving these diseased meals,” he said, adding that he has documents supporting his accusations.

“I have evidence to all what I say not only about the supply division in Saudi Arabia but in Cairo…one day, a consignment of donkey meat arrived in Cairo for the zoo there and at the same time, another shipment for the supply division arrived….tests showed this meat is similar to donkey meat yet it was later served for the passengers aboard Saudi Arabian aircraft.”

In letters published by the Saudi Sabq newspaper on Monday, many Saudis called for prosecuting those responsible for such actions while others were sarcastic in their comments. “I think all those responsible in the Airlines should be prosecuted and all passengers who doubt they had donkey meat should be compensated,” Abu Abdullah said in his letter.

A sarcastic reader, Dhafer Al Qahtani, called it a “braying disaster,” while another citizen said: “The question is whether it was donkey or zebra meat.”

“I would rather travel from Riyadh to Jeddah aboard a donkey than eat a donkey aboard a Saudi aircraft,” another reader commented.

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