Scores of Dubai food joints told to shut after complaints

DUBAI // Health inspectors have closed down 61 restaurants, cafes and cafeterias for breaching food hygiene rules after hundreds of customers complained to Dubai Municipality.

Expired food, the presence of insects and other pests, staff not wearing proper gloves while handling food and a lack of signs informing customers that ingredients in some dishes might cause an allergic reaction were among the breaches, said Sultan Al Taher, head of the food inspection section at the municipality’s Food Safety Department.

“These establishments have been given a short grace period to clear all the violations related to hygiene and unhealthy practices, expired foodstuffs and the presence of spoiled foods,” said Mr Al Taher.

He said inspections were carried out after 802 complaints were received from the public, with staff visiting 8,072 cafes, restaurants and cafeterias.

“The visits found that 380 calls were false while 442 were correct. Some outlets took corrective measures before inspectors arrived to verify the credibility of the complaint,” Mr Al Taher said.

He said the temporary closures were necessary to protect the public and ensure that restaurants abide by the rules in future.

Dubai Municipality regularly carries out inspections of food outlets to ensure that they stick to health and hygiene rules.

This year, 141 shawarma stands were shut after inspectors discovered they were not following hygiene rules, including leaving food out in high temperatures, not providing designated storage space for meat, chicken and vegetables.

During the latest round of checks, 822 food venues received “excellent” and “gold” ratings.

“For the first time since the new inspection system was implemented, 822 food establishments in Dubai received ‘excellent’ and ‘gold’ ratings in the first three months of 2017,” Mr Al Taher said.

The municipality follows up all complaints made by the public to its call centre and conducts inspections of food establishments, including warehouses, to take the necessary measures.

“We have observed that seven complaints were about repeated violators for unhealthy practices committed by workers such as general hygiene, not wearing gloves, presence of foreign objects in food, problems with menus, or they do not contain details about foods that may cause allergies,” Mr Al Tahir said.

The other common complaints, he said, included the presence of insects or rodents, the sale of expired food, spoiled foods, the poor ventilation and inadequate storage.

Meanwhile, the Department of Economic Development did not renew licences for 119 shisha cafes because of breach of the federal law on tobacco control that prohibits the use of shishas near mosques and schools and in residential areas.

Mr Al Tahir said the number of restaurants and cafes operating in Dubai increased by 10 per cent in the first quarter of this year, bringing the total to 16,657.

He said the municipality monitored all food venues.

“If the evaluation of the establishment is ‘very good’ and ‘excellent’ the visits of inspectors are less. If the establishments are high risk, visits increase annually.

“We also rely on the role of the health supervisors to find out what are the wrong practices and deal with them accordingly.”

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