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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Worker finds razor blade in supermarket biryani in Dubai

Big Ben catering removes food from shelves after complaint by d3 office worker

Food supplied by Big Ben catering has been removed from Allday supermarket shelves after a razor blade was found in a carton of biryani. Courtesy Tohir Jon
Food supplied by Big Ben catering has been removed from Allday supermarket shelves after a razor blade was found in a carton of biryani. Courtesy Tohir Jon

Ready meals and food supplied by a national catering company have been removed from supermarket shelves after a razor blade was found in a carton of biryani.

An office worker was about to take a mouthful of rice when he noticed the sharp metal object.

The meal was purchased from the Allday minimart in the Dubai Design District on Thursday, September 20.

Since then, Allday has conducted an investigation and removed all food supplied by the Dubai-based Big Ben catering company from sale in its 64 stores nationwide.

“I opened the top and took a mouthful of the food and it was fine at first,” said Tohir Jon, 24, an assistant manager in e-commerce from Tajikistan.

“I took a second scoop and noticed something glistening, buried in the food.

“I thought it was a leaf or something. I couldn’t believe it was a razor blade. I was shocked.

“I caught it just in time, but I had already tried the food, so it was quite upsetting.

"I was so shocked, I laughed to myself. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

“I showed my colleague who was sat next to me, and then called the police. They said to call Dubai Municipality.”

Mr Jon took a photo into the supermarket to show what he had found. Staff there said they would immediately remove all similar items from sale.

“I called the catering company, Big Ben, who wanted to resolve the situation without me making a complaint,” he said.

“They said it was only something small and to not make a big deal out of it.

“I told them I was very close to putting it in my mouth or even swallowing it.

"It could have killed me, so this was not something small.”

The razor blade, about five centimetres in length is the kind often used in barber shops, or to cut open boxes of rice.

Allday management was quick to respond, removing all other Big Ben products from its shelves.

No other food is reported to have been contaminated.

“We are no longer dealing with Big Ben catering,” said Mohammed Thavath, general manager of human resources and logistics at Allday.

“They have been supplying food for the past two years or so, and their produce has been very popular up to now.

“They have said there is no chance of a razor blade entering the food in the production chain, and all CCTV footage has been checked, offering no clues as to how it could have happened.

“The company is suspecting foul play, but we have to be cautious and have since stopped taking any stock from them.

“We do not want to compromise our own quality and service, we must protect our customers.”

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There are 60 branches of Allday supermarkets in Dubai, and four more in Abu Dhabi.

Although the incident appears to be an isolated case, Dubai Municipality would not confirm if it was investigating the incident or following up with consumer recommendations.

The department did not respond to a request for comment.

Although cases of contaminated food in the UAE are rare, imported frozen vegetables, baby milk, eggs and meat have all been withdrawn from sale in the past year due to health concerns.

In Australia, there have been more than 100 reports of needles hidden in fruit in the past month, with further cases reported in Singapore and New Zealand.

The Australian government has responded by increasing its maximum prison sentence for people found deliberately contaminating food.

“There is a routine inspection that has been completed by Dubai Municipality, and we always check on the security, conditions and standards of our suppliers,” Mr Thavath said.

“Big Ben has been supplying 40 to 45 of our stores, so losing this business will be a big blow to them. It is unfortunate but we have had to take this step.”

Big Ben catering did not respond to a request for comment.