ABU DHABI // Nine grocery stores were warned and one was shut down yesterday during a surprise visit to Musaffah by food-safety inspectors.
"Usually supermarkets in the industrial areas are not as clean as the ones in the city," said Talal Al Braiki, the lead inspector, as they looked at one shop.
Wazerstan Supermarket had already received two warnings this year and was being inspected after a complaint about their storage of juices.
"I would give this store a score of 70 out of 100," said Aref Salem Al Korbi, a senior inspector.
After inspecting expiry dates, fridge temperatures, fruit and vegetables and overall cleanliness, Mr Al Korbi docked points for an open fridge and said that the entire store was too warm.
"It is hard to keep these stores cool in the middle of summer, as they are more exposed to the sun," he said, and ordered the shopkeeper to turn on a second air-conditioning unit.
Stockpiling of goods could affect their quality, he said. "During Ramadan, the stores are busy so they tend to overstock rice, fruit and vegetables, which can lead to rotting or expired goods."
Kifayatollah Khan, 21, who has worked at the shop for almost two years, said: "There are five of us here and the owners have told us to work hard to keep the place clean."
The inspectors passed 17 of the 27 stores visited. Mohammed Jalal Al Reyaysa, the head of communication and community service at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, said no establishments would go unchecked.
"We conduct monthly inspections on every store, and if there are any warnings or complaints, that store will get checked frequently and promptly," he added.
Ramadan is a particularly important time for food safety as there is an increase in the handling, storing, and consumption of food products. "We are addressing complaints and concerns of stores outside the city, which some have said do not get as much attention as those in the city, as well as surprise inspections to restaurants around the Emirate," said Mr Al Reyaysa.
He also urged people to report unhygienic establishments.
"The safety of consumers is our priority and we want them to be our other eye in looking for violations," he said. "They should report any issues to 800-555."