Dubai boosts food safety effort
August 11. 2009 12:21AM UAE / August 10. 2009 8:21PM GMT
// The emirate will step up its food safety campaign by providing “training
sessions” for consumers at leading supermarkets, Dubai Municipality announced
Starting this Ramadan, municipality counters would set up at malls where
information on essential food safety methods would be explained by officers.
Training sessions would also be organised, especially for housewives, who
could register at these counters.
The announcement was made
at a meeting involving representatives of leading supermarket chains and
officials of the municipality’s Food Control Department.
Supermarkets participating in the meeting included LuLu, Spinneys, Carrefour,
Union Cooperative, Emirates Cooperative and HyperPanda.
The hours-long meeting was seen as a major effort by the municipality to stop
food poisoning, which has been blamed for several deaths in recent months.
Spoilt food was cited in the deaths of Nathan and Chelsea D’Souza, aged five
and eight, in Dubai in June. The death at the end of May of Marwa Faisal,
four, from Sharjah, was attributed to food poisoning, as was the death of
two-year-old Rishad Pranav in Dubai last month.
Dubai Municipality said it
had recorded 60 cases of food poisoning this year, 40 of which involved the
victims eating at home.
Khalid Sharif al Awadhi, head of the Food Control Department, said the
awareness campaigns were meant to increase the department’s direct contact
with consumers to better communicate messages on safe food handling.
The food safety counters are expected to start operating at the LuLu
Hypermarket in Al Qusais and later move to other areas, depending on the
programme’s initial success.
“We are looking at setting
up training sessions for housewives at these counters where advice would be
offered on how to assess quality of food and how to be careful with handling
of food,” said Bobby Krishna, a senior food studies officer at the
“We are keen on conducting such classes with consumers and are looking for
more interactive programmes to reach the consumer directly. Shoppers can come
and register with us and we will conduct classes for them,” said Mr Krishna.
Apart from the awareness
drive, the meeting discussed safe treatment of food. Supermarket operators
were reminded of the need for careful food handling, especially in relation
to ready-to-eat products. Such products are in the high-risk category for
causing food poisoning.
Common high-risk products include cold items such as meat, salads,
pasteurised milk, cheese and fish. Hot foods sold at several supermarkets are
also identified as high-risk.
Supermarket operators were
reminded to pay attention to temperature control for hot and cold items.
“All products should be labelled properly and should include consumer notes
on how to handle the food,” Mr Sharif said after the meeting.
“The supermarkets were also urged to conduct supplier audits to make sure
that the food supplied is made and stored in good conditions.” The meeting
with supermarkets followed the municipality’s announcement last week that it
was setting up a nine-member team to address food safety. The new team was to
focus on educating food safety offenders rather than shutting them down.
Inspectors would work with the food outlets to solve their defects and held
them reopen in a safer environment.
Sixty-five food outlets had
been shut down so far this year because of safety violations, the
Suraj Parakat, hygiene manager of LuLu Hypermarket, said the meeting was the
first time that leading supermarkets had met to discuss food safety.
“Such meetings help us a lot, because we also get to know about the
expectations of the municipality and exchange ideas with other supermarkets,”
he said. “The fact that the municipality logo will be added to these awareness
campaigns would add a lot of authenticity to the programmes.”