BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 22 March 2010
The Dubai Municipality (DM) has banned serving of food items containing alcohol ingredients at restaurants and hotels operating in the emirate.
The move by the civic body comes further enforcing an existing local legislation in this regard and extending the federal law on Halal foods to the restaurant and catering services segments too, according to a senior civic official.
The municipality has already issued a circular to all restaurants and hotels forbidding the use of alcohol as an ingredient in preparing meals and other dishes at their outlets.
"Article No.15 of the federal law on Halal foods has been directed to supermarkets or foodstuff traders. The law has now been applied in the food service establishments too, giving them a grace period to completely comply with the specifications," said Ahmed AbdelRahman Al Ali, Head of Food Inspection Section at the DM's Food Control Department.
He told The Gulf Today that a local regulation issued in 2003 specifies on compliance of Islamic rules strictly prohibiting alcohol mix in cooking dishes. The regulation also bans display and sale of such food items.
"Food establishments shall not handle alcohol beverages, unless they obtain a special permission from the authorities concerned. All alcohol items should be completely separate from other food products during storage, preparation and display," explained the circular, a copy of which has been obtained by The Gulf Today.
"The circular has been sent to all food service establishments, in light of the increasing complaints from customers about the mix of alcohol ingredient in dishes," said Al Ali.
"Further inspections proved that many restaurants and hotels have been violating the regulations, often concealing from the customers the fact of alcohol usage in dishes," he pointed out.
According to him, the civic body's concern is to ensure the adherence of local culture and obedience of Islamic principles.
"The DM didn't intend to limit the scope of what the restaurants can serve. And it is not going to affect their businesses or even tourism. However, hotels can serve alcohol upon obtaining a special permission," noted Al Ali.
He explained that menu cards mentioning the food items made with alcohol ingredient, and those without alcohol, is not the way to escape the legislation, inspired by Islamic principles.
"All the offending items should be removed from the menu cards. The alcohol containing dishes are mainly prepared in Italian and French culinary traditions," he added.