Sharjah authorities seize 100s of kilogrammes of rotten food during Ramadan crackdown

Rotten meat and items sold beyond sell-by date were confiscated as inspectors swoop down on hundreds of shops.

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SHARJAH // Hundreds of kilogrammes of rotten and expired food have been seized during Ramadan and more than 200 shops warned or fined for breaching hygiene rules.

Inspectors visited shops for Al Dhaid Municipality, which covers the central district of Sharjah, and seized 280kg of rotten meat and fish, 208 items of expired food and 160 litres of drinks past their use-by date.

Mohammed Jaafari Al Ketbi, the director of public health at the municipality, said problems relating to hygiene, the sale of expired products and shop staff not having health ID cards were among the major breaches uncovered by inspectors.

"Other violations were not following the proper and safe way of preparing food, poor maintenance of food facilities and not preserving properly food that threatened the safety of fasting people," he said.

Mr Al Ketbi said the municipality was very strict about hygiene rules, even going so far as to fine workers Dh100 if their fingernails were too long. This fine can be increased to up to Dh400 for repeat offences.

Shops found to be in breach of food-safety rules can be closed and the owner fined Dh1,200.

Mr Al Ketbi said a common problem during the summer was shops switching off refrigerators at night to save on electricity costs.

Mr Al Ketbi urged the public not to buy food without first checking the expiry date and overall condition of the item. He also asked residents to call the municipality on 993 if they found food safety and hygiene rules had been breached so officials could investigate.

Inspectors from the municipality are also visiting markets around Sharjah, especially those selling children's toys, to make sure fireworks and other explosives are not being sold to youngsters during Eid.

"Once a shop is found illegally selling these items, it is fined Dh5,000 and has all the items confiscated," said Nasser Saeed Al Tunaiji, the head of municipal safety and inspections. "If there is a repeat then the shop is fined Dh10,000 and closed for some time."

Omar Al Sharji, the director of inspections and operations at Sharjah Municipality, also said efforts were being stepped up to curb the sale of illegal items and to stop traders charging high prices.

He said inspection teams carried out random checks at shops during the day and at night.