DUBAI // Restaurants, hotels and cafes are on high alert ahead of Ramadan as the Food Control Department (FCD) plans increased and stricter inspections.
The head of the food inspection section of Dubai Municipality, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Ali, said there was no room for error concerning public health.
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The department will be focusing on what it describes as high risk offences such as temperature control and general cleanliness of premises and staff.
In particular, it will be checking that food is displayed on efficient hot and cold cabinets; that food handlers are adhering to personal hygiene requirements, such as wearing head covers and gloves; and that handlers have valid occupational health cards, said Mr Al Ali.
"Food should be well covered and protected from any source of contamination and all food transportation vehicles must be approved by the Food Control Department," said Mr Al Ali.
Each inspector will conduct a minimum of five inspections per shift during Ramadan.
The department carried out 34,000 inspections during 2010 and recorded a 95 per cent compliance. Establishments wishing to erect tents must first gain permission from the Food Control Department. To do this they must inform the department of the internal layout of their tent and the equipment it would contain.
Hassan Masood, the executive chef at Radisson Blu at Dubai Media City, said the hotel would increase "on-the-job skills training" in areas such as storage and waste reduction.
"We work as per Dubai Municipality guidelines including keeping food on the buffet at a certain temperature to avoid quick food spoilage," Mr Masood said. "Also, avoiding setting up a buffet too long before serving and preparing minimum food on display first and refilling the buffet frequently."
He said all perishable items were also checked for production and expiry dates.
Other hotels taking extra precautions include the Movenpick Hotel, which recently refurbished its kitchen, moved its cold kitchen to a separate floor and increased hygiene training, according to Marcus Dudley, the director of food and beverages.
"Because it's such a hot period, we need to be mindful of the proper environment in order to avoid food poisoning," Mr Dudley said. "We fully support Dubai Municipality's initiative and we have already begun Ramadan preparations."
Those preparations include sending food samples to a private laboratory to ensure they are safe. If a customer were to fall sick, the hotel could then ascertain whether the food was at fault.
"We will decorate the restaurant as a tent which will be well-insulated and [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] certified. We will utilise proper air conditioning standards and a purpose-built buffet with advanced temperature control," Mr Dudley said.
Customers dining out for Iftar are advised by Mr Al Ali to make sure hot meals are served hot, utensils are sanitary and staff members are clean and tidy.
For any concerns regarding food safety, contact the municipality on 800900.