x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Inspectors close four restaurants

Four restaurants found to be violating food safety standards were hit with fines and temporarily shut down following a series of raids by municipal inspectors.

DUBAI // Four restaurants found to be violating food safety standards were hit with fines and temporarily shut down following a series of raids by municipal inspectors. Three of the food outlets selling what Dubai Municipality called "western food" were caught using expired products for the preparation of meals, while one Oriental food outlet was offering pork and alcohol without a permit. The names of the restaurants were withheld yesterday but all of them were located in Bur Dubai, authorities said.

The raids were conducted two weeks ago following tip-offs from customers and employees. Ahmed AbdulRahman al Ali, the head of the municipality's food inspection section, said the offenders were also slapped with a fine of more than Dh30,000. "The restaurants have been shut for a month. After finishing the penalty term, they have to convince us that the food being used is safe. They will also have to sign an agreement to not repeat the offence," said Mr al Ali.

The moves follow a series of initiatives by Dubai Municipality this year to improve food safety standards in the emirate. Last year, four children died after allegedly consuming contaminated food. The death of five-year-old Nathan and seven-year-old Chelsea D'Souza raised serious questions about the safety of food in Dubai. "Adulteration will always be there and cannot be completely avoided," said Mr al Ali.

When asked why restaurants continued to flout the rules despite repeated warnings, he said: "Some people do adulteration due to financial problems they face or to make more money. "However, my experience suggests that the public will report such cases and they cannot hide for long.". Mr al Ali explained that the food inspection section conducted 4,835 field visits between January 1 and February 25. New food safety procedures were announced by the department, and, so far, 55 food establishments had committed to applying these procedures. There are over 4,000 food outlets in Dubai. "There is still a long way to go," Mr al Ali said. "However, we are happy with the progress and expect everyone to comply soon," he added.

Mr al Ali urged the public to call the food control department on 800900 to report violations. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae