Friday, August 28, 2009

Street-vending of Iftar snacks needs approval

The Gulf Today, 25 Aug 2009
EATERIES, restaurants and cafeterias selling snack foods outside their premises or in streets during the Holy month of Ramadan must obtain a temporary approval to display the food items targeting the Ramadan customers.
Dubai Municipality (DM) will provide the special permit for street vending of snacks, upon conditions of complying with the civic body’s regulations on food safety and public health measures, according to a senior DM official.
The civic body has issued a memorandum in this regard to all the food outlets operational in the emirate, in order to ensure that the food items prepared and displayed at eateries during the holy month are safe and hygienic for the consumption of customers.
Khalid Mohammed Sharif, Director of Food Control Department at DM, said: “Displaying snacks on streets or outside the restaurants is a common practice in the region during Ramadan to attract Ifthar customers who traditionally prefer to buy snack foods sold in the streets. But it’s their right to avail the best food items, considering the health and hygiene measures of international standards.”
“The eateries obtaining the separate approval from the Municipality should sell the Ramadan snack foods in closed display cases in clean areas that free of spills, dirt and pests,” he added.
Fines on violators
Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Ali, Head of the Food Inspection Section at DM, revealed that restaurants which display fast foods without a permit from the Municipality will be slapped with a fine of Dhs20,000.
“The violators of general food safety regulations will face hefty fines ranging from 200 to 5000 Dirhams. High risk violations of the food safety regulations will invite a fine of Dhs.20,000, followed by closure of the erring eateries for gross violations,” he added.
According to him, the fines will be multiplied, if the DM inspectors find out that the violations are repeated or the particular issue is not solved.
Bobby Krishna, Senior Food Safety Officer of the Municipality, pointed out, “All snacks with stuffed meat products, vegetables and eggs should be held hot at or above 65 Deg Celcius until the items are sold out.”
“Certain snacks like Pakoras or fries that are not stuffed can be kept without hot holding, not exceeding two hours since the time of their preparation. The food outlets will be fine with Dhs.500, if they are not having equipments or facilities to keep the cooked food items hot holding,” he said.
Food handling
Krishna explained that the food handlers who prepare or sell the snacks should maintain high standards of personal hygiene. They should not use bare hands to handle the snacks, which should be sold in clean packs. A Dhs.200 fine will be imposed on the staff members who are not wearing hand-glows and hairnet.
“Meanwhile, pork dishes are permitted in only limited food outlets in the city. If the civic body inspectors find out that pork dishes are sold at outlets without a permission, a huge fine of Dhs.50,000 will be imposed on the violators,” he added.
Food safety reason
According to him, proper temperatures can only help control the growth of pathogens (agents such as bacteria that can cause disease) in the cooked food items, which are held out of temperature is considered a serious risk factor.
“Open display of cooked food leads to contamination and renders the food unsafe for human consumption. Bacteria, viruses and other pathogens can find its way into the food through contaminated environment, people and pests,” Bobby added.
Meanwhile, Khalid Sharif advised the consumers not to buy the snack foods from outlets that do not follow the civic body’s instructions and regulations on public health and food safety. The purchased foods should be consumed as soon as possible and do not store them for more than two hours.

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