Dubai: During the first quarter of this year, Dubai Municipality ordered temporary closure of 61 food outlets due to hygiene violations.
“These food establishments have been given a short period of time to modify their status and clear all the violations related to hygiene and unhealthy practices, expired foodstuffs, and the presence of spoiled foods,” said Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of Food Inspection Section in the Food Safety Department said in a press release on Thursday.
“At the same time, for the first time since the new inspection system was implemented, 822 food establishments in Dubai received excellent and gold ratings during the first three months of 2017,” he pointed out.
Al Tahir explained that during this period, the inspectors of the department carried out 8,072 inspection visits, including visits to confirm the 822 notifications received by the Municipality Call Centre. “We receive several communications from consumers, but they must be confirmed before deciding whether or not to issue fines,” he said.
"The visits showed that 380 notifications (46% of the total communications) were incorrect and 442 notifications were correct and they were dealt with immediately. Some food outlets took corrective measures before the inspector arrived to ascertain the facts about the complaint. Some customers had threatened them to complain to the Municipality."
“We have observed that seven complaints were on repeatedviolations, which were about unhealthy practices committed by workers such as lack of 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,” Al Tahir pointed out.
He reiterated that the Municipality follows up, with concern, the reports and observations received from public through the Call Centre, and conducts checks on food establishments, including warehouses and restaurants, to take the necessary corrective measures.
Among the complaints received by the department were the presence of insects or rodents in a food establishment, the sale of expired materials, the presence of spoiled foods, as well as the poor ventilation and storage of food.
Improvement in ratings
“Out of the 822 food outlets that were awarded Excellent and Gold rating during the evaluation, 417 have received the Gold rating for the first time since the introduction of the new inspection system mid-last year, and 1,265 received Very Good rating compared to 1,877 establishments during the same period last year. However, the establishments that got Very Good last year, improved their performance and got Excellent this year."
He added that 1,145 food establishments operating in Dubai received a Good evaluation compared to 2,779 during the same period last year, 285 companies got Acceptable, compared to 350 in the same period last year, and 32 received Poor evaluation compared to 55 during the past year.
Al Tahir pointed out that the Food Studies Section in the Food Safety Department in the Municipality is in the process of activating the second phase of the Health Supervisor (Person-In Charge) Initiative, especially since the initiative was implemented five years ago.
He added that the Section examines the pros and cons of the initiative, to learn how to develop it.
“Most of the food establishments have improved their performance a lot during this period and tried to get excellent evaluation for correcting the violation, a major change in administrative thought,” said Al Tahir.
Increase in number of outlets
He said the number of food establishments in Dubai has increased by 10% during the first quarter of this year, bringing the total to about 16,657 operating outlets.
He added that the Municipality monitors establishments according to their annual assessment and according to the seriousness of the establishment. “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,” said Al Tahir.