Shop 'bought back its own condemned food'

Expired food set to be destroyed finds itself back on the shelves of a famous supermarket in Al Ain

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ABU DHABI // A lorryload of rotten food disappeared on its way to the rubbish tip - and reappeared in the same shop that had condemned it in the first place.

The rice, pistachio nuts, oil and vine leaves came from a storage warehouse belonging to Al Mustaqbal supermarket in Al Ain. They were part of a 90-tonne batch sent to be destroyed after a fire in a neighbouring warehouse raised temperatures in the supermarket's storage area to unhygienic levels.

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After the lorry disappeared its owner, the food wholesaler Al Maya, told Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) it had found the contents back on Al Mustaqbal's shelves.

Inspectors did not find any on the shelves, but the authority said the supermarket owner admitted buying the food from an "unknown individual". He told them he had returned it as soon as he realised it was bad.

The case was referred to Al Ain police, and the public prosecution has taken over the investigation.

Mohamed Jalal al Reyaysa, ADFCA's communications director, promised "stern action" if the allegations are proven.

He described consumer safety as "a red line we will never allow anyone to cross" and said the incident was serious. "We will not show any leniency towards the culprits."