Umm al Qaiwain // Seven restaurants in Umm al Qaiwain have been fined for bad hygiene since the start of Ramadan. The Department of Economic Development (DED) in the emirate intensified its inspection campaign to ensure residents breaking their fast would not fall prey to food poisoning in dirty restaurants and cafes, said Eissa al Mulla, the head of general inspections at the department.
Besides cleanliness, the inspectors were also monitoring prices of basic foodstuffs. Those charging exorbitant sums were warned or fined. Most inspections are carried out at night, around the time iftars, although some took place in the morning suhoor hours, said Mr al Mulla. "The restaurants that sell food on their verandas have to ensure they cover the foods well with a clean plastic cover," he said. "Those that half-cover food sold on streets and those that cover it with dirty plastic bags will all be fined."
Mr al Mulla said restaurant workers' hygiene was essential. At least one restaurant among those fined had staff deemed too dirty to be serving food in a restaurant. "All restaurant workers should wear a clean uniform and an apron," he said. He also said inspectors were checking public kitchens that have been given contracts from charitable organisations to provide iftar meals for residents at mosques and tents.
He said such kitchens are expected to provide 1,500 meals a night - a high number that inspectors cannot afford to overlook in terms of safety. He said inspectors were also working on tip-offs from the public about dirty restaurants and cafeterias. After a tip-off, inspectors immediately visit the restaurant and it is fined if found to be breaking hygiene rules or raising food prices. The fines ranged between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000.
Emad Banurah owns a Yemeni outlet, Mandi Restaurant, on King Abdul Aziz Road. He said inspectors had visited it during Ramadan. "Not at any time did they give us a warning or a fine. We are always having a clean kitchen and sitting place. The inspectors have only ticked us good," he said. But Hussein Jassim, who owns a cafeteria on the Umm al Qaiwain Corniche serving tea to people who park their cars at the seaside, said he once received a warning letter.
His kitchen was inspected and found to be not 100 per cent. He said he ensured that the next time the inspectors came to his cafeteria, everything was spick and span. At Joraif Restaurant in the Al Shababiya area, Mohamed Ali, a customer, said he had shunned some restaurants this Ramadan for their disregard for hygiene. "I have seen one chef wiping some plates with a dirty cloth," he said. "From then on I never ate again in their restaurant."
He agreed that hygiene in restaurants was essential during the holy month, adding that immune systems were sensitive and weak after long hours without food. The inspection campaigns will continue throughout the holy month in all the emirates. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org