x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Food inspections find 257 Dubai restaurants unhygienic and unsafe

Only 0.2 per cent of Dubai's food outlets were deemed "excellent" while four per cent were found unsatisfactory, according to figures released by the municipality.

DUBAI // More than 250 Dubai food outlets were found to be unhygienic and unsafe in the final three months of last year.

A total of 257 restaurants, or 4 per cent of those inspected, were deemed unsatisfactory. Just 0.2 per cent were rated as excellent.

Eleven per cent of outlets were very good and 79 per cent good.

Last July, 97 per cent of fish and meat retailers inspected by the municipality in the first half of the year were warned, fined or closed for breaking health and hygiene rules.

Of 6,592 restaurants inspected in the fourth quarter last year, 15 were temporarily closed for breaking health and safety requirements.

Those closed are given a week before being checked again, or less if their owners think they are ready.

They were "mainly old, individual restaurants", said Sultan Ali Tahir, the head of food inspection at the municipality. Only 10 per cent were in shopping centres.

Problems included poor pest control and refurbishments.

"In some cases they need to increase their preparation area, which means the kitchen is too small for the amount of people they are serving," Mr Tahir said.

Others were unventilated or badly built. Inspectors found some workers with a severe lack of training.

Of 115 random checks, "many were booked for violating the norms and regulations", Mr Tahir said, while 580 restaurants were checked after customer complaints. Of those, 318 were "found wanting".

He expected fewer inspections this year because of the general improvement in the conditions of food outlets.

"We are doing better than last year as violations decreased by 8 per cent from the previous year," Mr Tahir said.

"Since we implemented our Person In Charge programme, the number of complaints has dropped and it's helped us a lot."

A three-year project to have a "person in charge" in every food establishment in Dubai was expected to reach its target by the end of last year.

It requires a staff member to be named as being responsible for monitoring food storage and preparation.

cmalek@thenational.ae