Dubai restaurants fined for food safety

Nearly 200 fines issued for breaking safety regulations as Ramadan inspectors also find problems at some warehouses.

DUBAI // Authorities have issued nearly 200 fines to Dubai establishments caught breaking food safety regulations during special inspections conducted since the beginning of Ramadan. The campaign, undertaken by Dubai Municipality, concentrated on outlets selling food products that are in demand during the holy month. Sultan Ali al Tahir, the acting head of the Product Control section, said 239 inspection visits had been carried out since the beginning of Ramadan.

"We issued 161 fines and 78 warnings. In the assessment, 57 establishments got 'very good' and 171 'good'," he said. "Only eight establishments earned a rating of 'average' and 'weak', which is 4 per cent of the establishments visited during the campaign." Inspectors also checked warehouses storing food. Mr al Tahir said 35 fines and 56 notices were issued to negligent facilities. "The most significant violations in warehouses were a lack of general cleanliness, followed by improper storage and poor ventilation," he said. He added some of the workers in these institutions were found to have no health cards. Prior to the campaign, which began two weeks before the holy month and continued for two weeks during Ramadan, working groups met with food establishments.

"Food-borne diseases and the damage resulting from it is upsetting, but it may be fatal too," said Mr al Tahir. Inspectors also visited cooperative stores and hypermarkets to ensure their compliance with hygiene standards. Checks focused on products in demand during the holy month. Warehouses of such department stores also were inspected. "The main objective was to ensure the health and safety of the food that reaches the consumer. These warehouses are the primary tributary [for] food establishments and consumers, so food safety [there] will impact most segments of society," said Mr al Tahir.

The Dubai report follows news that seven restaurants in Umm al Qaiwain have received fines during Ramadan for bad hygiene. Fines ranged between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000 after inspectors carried out a series of spot checks at food retailers in the emirate. Most inspections took place at night, around the time of iftars, although some occurred in the morning suhoor hours. In addition to cleanliness, inspectors monitored the prices of basic foodstuffs with those deemed to be charging exorbitant sums receiving warnings or fines.