Sharjah puts food sellers on notice

The municipality is kicking off a food inspection campaign designed to prevent shopkeepers from turning off their refrigerators during the summer to save energy.

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SHARJAH // Hygiene inspectors have launched a summer food-safety campaign aimed at retailers who turn off refrigerators at night to save electricity costs.

"Most of the food-safety violations in summer are defreezing food items by switching off the refrigerators at night," said Sultan al Mualla, the director general of Sharjah Municipality. "This is dangerous and could lead to food poisoning."

Mr al Mualla said inspectors, who can confiscate food items for testing, would first warn offenders then fine those who persisted.

The fines start at Dh1,000. If the problems were not fixed the business could be shut down, he said.

The campaign will check hygiene in restaurants, kitchens, grocery shops, school canteens, food transport vehicles and supermarkets.

Mr al Mualla also urged restaurant owners to train their staff in food preparation and personal hygiene.

Figures released by the municipality show inspectors made 57,000 visits to food outlets last year and issued 5,012 fines.

Mr al Mualla said the industry was rapidly growing. Last year, 1,266 new outlets were licensed.

He urged the public to check the quality of food items and their expiration dates before buying, and to call 933 with any complaints.