Media seminar at Dubai International Food Safety Conference Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In over two years after it launched a service to verify the authenticity of rumours spread through social media, Dubai Municipality thwarted 60 of them, an official said on Monday.

The municipality verified 15 rumours in 2015 after the launch of the ‘Confirmed News’ service on July 23 that year, said Khater Hassan Al Nuaimi, director of Customer Relations and Partners Department in Dubai Municipality.

In 2016, the number of rumours the civic body verified jumped to 28. So far in 2017, 18 rumours have been verified through the service.

The official presented these figures at a seminar on the role of media in meeting food safety and nutrition challenges which was organised alongside the ongoing 11th Dubai International Food Safety Conference.

Speaking to Gulf News later, Al Nuaimi said the rumours quashed by the municipality ranged from plastic in rice and cheese to carcinogenic substances in popular drinks and desserts. Most of the rumours were related to food and some related to consumer products. 

“Some rumours did not even make any sense and people should refrain from forwarding them to others,” he said.

Al Nuaimi urged the residents to contact the municipality’s call centre for authenticating the unverified and confusing information they receive on social media.

Hotline and WhatsApp 

They can either call the call centre’s toll-free  hotline number 800900 or notify it through the WhatsApp number +971501077799.

He said the call centre coordinates with departments concerned to explain the correct information to the caller reporting a rumour so that he/she is fully aware of the truth of what has been heard or shared through social media.

“The municipality call centre answers all public queries and observations, corrects false news, and gives clarifications if needed, within a maximum of eight hours.”

“This removes the causes of worry by giving the full picture in all transparency and objectivity,” said Al Nuaimi, emphasizing the social role carried out by Dubai Municipality.

At the seminar, the speakers called on the media and food regulatory authorities to work hand in hand to reduce the circulation of foodstuff-related rumors that are spread through social media.

The speakers in the seminar included veteran Arabic media persons and health experts.

They included Dr. Ahmed Abdul Malik, family medicine specialist from Kuwait, Dr. Mariam Matar, founder of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, Rashid Al Kharji, of Noor Dubai radio, and Thamer Al Qasimi from the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority. 

The seminar was chaired by Dr. Anwar Al Hammadi, consultant dermatologist.