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New devices to detect meat adulteration

Abu Dhabi food authority warns butcheries against illegal practices

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Butcheries in the emirate selling frozen meat as fresh and mixing discarded meat parts with good meat will be caught easily thanks to new techniques and devices used by food safety inspectors, a senior official told Gulf News Monday.

Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) is using new techniques and devices which make it easy and near fool-proof to detect adulteration, fraud or manipulation of meat sold in the markets, Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA, said.

There are 333 butcheries in the emirate.

No contamination

A device to measure the internal heat in the meat helps inspectors prevent frozen meat from being sold as fresh, he said. The laser device used by the inspectors comes in handy to measure the general heat levels, Al Reyaysa said.

"This need not be brought in direct contact with the meat, thus avoiding any resultant contamination. Similarly, there are devices that accurately measure the moisture and acidity levels in the meat," the official said.

Another device to measure the fat content in chopped or cut meat helps to detect discarded meat parts mixed with good chopped or cut meat, he said.

"Some meat sellers mix discarded meat parts with good chopped or cut meat to increase profits. In such cases, detecting the levels of fat in meat, fish or poultry products will reveal manipulations easily," he said. As many as eight readings are shown on the device and their average will provide clinching evidence against manipulations, he said.

There are GCC standards and specifications that govern the level of permissible fats in chopped meat and the use of the device serves as evidence in a court of law in case of violations, Al Reyaysa said.

Data collection

"The readings in devices can be transferred later to office computers, helping in the process of collecting evidence. The data thus collected are also used in risk analysis and quality management," he explained.

The inspectors of the authority use the new devices during their visits to butcheries and meat shops to ensure that the meat on display for sale is free from adulteration or other malpractices, he said.

This, in turn, spreads more trust and confidence among the consumers, he added.

The use of new technology is part of Abu Dhabi Government's strategy to develop knowledge economy, the official said.

Butcheries toe the line

The level of compliance with rules and regulations at butcheries rose to 85 per cent this year thanks to intensified inspections and use of new techniques, Mohammad Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA, said.

A total of 280 warnings were issued during the first quarter of this year in regard to meats.

"About 11 violations have been recorded during the same period, 1,064 warnings were issued last year to meat shops, in addition to detecting 62 violations. As compared to last year, we are happy to note a remarkable rise in levels of compliance," he said.

It was a result of relentless monitoring and intensified awareness campaigns by the authority, he added.