ABU DHABI // A British chef at a restaurant in the Emirates Palace hotel is appealing his sentence for storing a container of expired yoghurt: a Dh92,000 (US$27,000) fine. Inspectors from Abu Dhabi Municipality found the yoghurt during a routine visit to the kitchen of the Etoiles restaurant and lounge about a month ago. The head chef, identified as PH, was convicted and ordered to pay Dh70,000 for not educating his staff on the emirate's food expiration laws and Dh20,000 for storing expired food. He also had to pay another Dh2,000 for the municipality's fees.
PH appealed the court sentence in the past few weeks, and the case was referred to the Criminal Court of Appeal, where it was heard yesterday. His attorney said the food was only one day past its use-by date; court documents do not specify when the food expired. Yesterday PH pleaded with the judge to have the fine overturned. "I am only an employee of the hotel," PH said. "I should not be the one charged with this. I signed the documents, but I did not understand that I would be the one charged. I am only an employee."
The judge asked through a translator whether PH was in charge of the staff. "Are you just an employee there, or are you the one responsible for the kitchen?" the judge asked. "I am the head chef, but this is not my restaurant. I am a worker there," PH answered. Emirates Palace hotel officials did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. There were no representatives from the municipality yesterday in court. The municipality could also not be reached for comment. The judge said the appeal verdict would be rendered on July 22.
Although the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority is tasked with inspecting for hygiene and expired food, the municipality also conducts general inspections.
In recent food-violation cases, the store is taken to court unless employees violate company orders.
During the past week in Abu Dhabi, for instance, the butchery counter at LuLu hypermarket was ordered closed for three days.