x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Campaign to cut food poisoning

Officials target food retailers who turn off their refrigerators at night to save power during summer.

SHARJAH // Food retailers who turn off their refrigerators at night to save power are a major cause of food poisoning in summer, and Sharjah food safety officials have launched an inspection campaign to stop it. Inspectors have recently caught and fined 94 violators including supermarket and grocery store operators. "Some food and dairy products can just not be left without refrigeration for a long time," said Jassim Mohammed Ali the director of Internal Food Inspection Department at the Sharjah Municipality. The inspections follow the formation of a committee with the job of reducing the number of food poisoning cases in the emirate. Mr Jassim, who is vice chairman of the committee, said the foremost objective of the committee was to keep records so that authorities could look for common causes or trends. The committee would be notified by hospitals and clinics of cases of food poisoning. "If you ask any official from anywhere in this country about food poisoning records, the answer would be the same: 'We don't have them'. How can you fight food poisoning when you don't have records? Old cases continue appearing without notice," he said. The committee is chaired by Dr Najla Ali Al Muala and includes officials from the municipality, ministry of health and Sharjah police. Mr Jassim said that the committee would work out a programme to create awareness of food poisoning as many people were mistaking other health problems including other forms of gastroenteritis, the symptoms of which are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. "If a non-familiar food is detected in your body, your digestion system is going into overdrive and get rid of it, if there is any of it left in the stomach .... At times the stomach rejects some food, you feel like you are going to die after eating it, but you will probably make it through," he said. Food poisoning is the result of eating organisms or toxins in contaminated food. Most cases of food poisoning are from common bacteria. It can affect one person or it can occur as an outbreak in a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food. ykakande@thenational.ae