ABU DHABI // Eighteen food outlets in the Western Region were charged for food-safety offences yesterday after surprise inspections at catering companies and labour camps.
The inspections, in Al Ruwais and Gayathi, came 10 days after workers at an Al Ruwais labour camp were admitted to hospital complaining of food poisoning.
At the time, food-safety authorities said the labourers were suffering from mass hysteria.
Yesterday, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority issued warnings to seven establishments and destroyed more than 700 kilograms of food. Only nine of 35 outlets were found to be complying with the authority's regulations.
"We had communicated time and again to all the catering firms and labour camps that no one was allowed to cater food to labour camps without a proper licence," said Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, the authority's communications director. "Stringent action will be taken."
Warnings were issued to companies that were found to be refreezing fish and meat, and those using dirty cloths for cleaning, frying with rotten oil and storing ready-to-eat food improperly.
"The safety of the workers in labour camps is no less important than the safety of others and we will not allow anyone to expose such an important section of people to food risks, illnesses and death," Mr Al Reyaysa said.
All the offences were related to licensing issues. While some companies were caught catering for labour camps without licences or with expired ones, others were found transporting and distributing food using vehicles that did not have the required permits.
"We are currently targeting all of the 340 kitchens in labour camps in the Western Region," said Mr Al Reyaysa. "So far, 225 kitchens have got licences for providing catering services, 99 are under consideration for licensing and 16 are now under construction."
He said all labour kitchens would be issued a licence by the end of the year.
Any complaints can be lodged by calling the authority on 800 555.