BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 5 Aug 2009
At least 65 food outlets and eateries have been closed down in Dubai for violation of regulations outlined by Dubai Municipality (DM).
Meanwhile, 40 food poisoning cases from home-cooked food items were reported in the emirate during the last seven months, revealed the civic body sources.
Khalid Sharif Al Awadi, Director of the Food Control Department at DM, has revealed the closure of the erring food outlets has been under execution since the beginning of this year through to July.
The DM has received sixty food poisoning cases, out of which 40 poisoning incidents were reported due to eating foods prepared in homes. Seven food poisoning cases have been confirmed through analysis conducted at Dubai Central Lab, he said.
According to Al Awadi, the violators include restaurants, groceries, public kitchens and cafeterias that didn't comply with the requirements towards the safety regulations of public health standards.
He pointed out, "About 4672 cases were registered for the violations. Food inspectors at the DM's Food Control Department had made 14,717 visits to 7924 food selling outlets, out of 14,332 eateries, caterers, cafeterias and restaurants operational in the city."
"The municipality is planning to launch a public awareness campaign on food poisoning in the wake of an alarming rate of increase in such cases, and while more restaurants are found committing violations of the rules of the civic body. The general public, workers in food selling or related organisations, shoppers in shopping malls, housewives and children will be educated about healthy eating habits and dealing with items safely," he added.
"A cartoon character has been developed with the aim of spreading a healthy food culture in the community, as well as facilitating the process of educating people about nutrition and healthy diet habits."
"Thousands of flyers carrying the "Mr Safeis" picture will also be distributed with instructions on healthy food preparation. Food ventures will also be educated on the ways to safely deal with their products, with guidance on how to safely transport and preserve foods, as well as ensuring the integrity and safety of consumers," he said.
Al-Awadi noted, "The campaign will be launched by the Holy month of Ramadan. Representatives of seventy major food organisations running in Dubai have attended a meeting held recently in this regard. Workshops will also be organised for discussing the suggestions made during the meeting."
"The campaign will be divided into four sections, with one team for educating housewives, another assigned for awareness at schools and universities, while the other groups will address the public. The campaign aims at educating all the classes of society about food safety on all sorts of items including both imported and locally produced food," he added.
Al Awadhi said that informative collaterals in different languages will be distributed at malls and restaurants, along with the necessary instructions on food safety, sanitation and hygiene. The instructions are aimed at all tiers of society and different nationalities. SMS awareness also will be circulated among thousands of random mobile numbers.