Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Prohibited dish lands restaurant in soup

The Gulf Today, 5 March 2010

A restaurant in Dubai has been penalised by the civic body for preparing and offering pork and liquor without obtaining a permit from the competent authorities.
A number of other food establishments in various locations of the Emirate also have been caught for using raw materials that were well past their shelf life in the preparation of meals.
The penalties included a fine of over Dhs.30,000 and closure of the outlet for a one-month period, according to a senior official at the Dubai Municipality (DM).
Ahmed AbdulRahman Al Ali, Head of Food Inspection Section at the DM, said that a range of other food service-related violations, such as food labelling issues also, have been registered by the municipal inspectors.
"The food inspection section has conducted 4,835 field visits between Jan.1 and Feb.25. The DM has immediately imposed the penalties prescribed by the regulations of the Local Order No.11/2003," he added.
According to him, the usage of expired food items for cooking dishes at restaurants or catering outlets will invite stringent penal actions, as it poses serious threats to the public health.
Al Ali noted that the civic body has prohibited use of meat and other food items that are contrary to the provisions of Islamic law. To do so, the food service providers should comply with special regulations and obtain special permission from the official authorities of the Emirate.
"The consumers are cheated and their health comes under risk as they unknowingly eat dishes comprising ingredients that are past their shelf life. Displaying or showcasing expired foodstuff is also punishable," he added.
"The food inspection tours have been entered in the general system and fines of the DM's inspection section. The fines are implemented in collaboration with the Dubai Department of Economic Development," he said.
"However, 55 food establishments were found applying self-regulated procedures with significant improvements in their technical and hygienic standards, and reducing the rate of violations," explained Al Ali.
The methods of food inspection system in Dubai are currently being changed, foreseeing the future challenges and external factors associated with the increasing population in the Emirate.
According to the new system, all the foodstuff establishments in the Emirate are required to apply a self-identified food control system and adopt a risk management system, as per the unified food safety mechanism under the new law to be implemented by the year-end.
"More number of private laboratories will be permitted in the Emirate to activate the role of the private sector in the analysis of samples and develop a system to investigate diseases transmitted through food in collaboration with strategic partners," the Head of Municipality's Food Inspection Unit had said at the recently held Dubai International Food Safety Conference.
"A pilot study on 37 foodstuff establishments has been completed by the civic body, classifying such enterprises as D or E in order to raise their technical and health standards, curb the rate of food safety violations and stop high-risk violations," explained Al Ali.
According to him, the revolutionary shift in the food safety inspection system is inspired by unexpected increase of foodstuff establishments, bio-diversity of cultures and dietary habits.
According to him, Dubai Municipality is imparting intensive training to inspectors as part of a uniform approach in dealing with irregularities and to determine the impact on the safety of the final product.
"The new food inspection system will be equipped with innovative technologies, transparency and risk analysis and identification of risk from farm to table. It's being worked out by using the programme of inspection and fines," he noted.
"All the measures are implemented through the inputs to the system and classification of activities according to the degree of risks involved, labeled as low, medium and high categories of risk," added Al Ali.

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