A non-halal section at a supermarket. Municipality rules clearly state that pork products should not come into contact with surfaces of utensils or equipment used for other food products. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Authorities have warned food establishments to abide by the rules when handling and selling pork products to avoid facing hefty fines and having their licences revoked.

Some residents said they were shocked last week to find that restaurants in five-star hotels along the Jumeirah Beach Residence community failed to adhere to municipal standards and used the same kitchen equipment on halal products after slicing pork products.

“I ordered a halal pizza and, as we were seated by the open kitchen, I could clearly see that the same cutter was used for a pork pizza that was delivered to the table beside mine. The chef also did not use any gloves and did not wash his hands. How is it halal then if, after I requested to see the kitchen, the waiter clearly stated that they had a separate room to cut pork but were not using it,” asked a worried resident, who wished to remain anonymous.

When approached by Gulf News, an official from Dubai Municipality said severe action will be taken against any restaurant that does not strictly adhere to the rules and regulations pertaining to pork products.

“A food retail outlet needs a permit to sell pork items, and when they acquire one, they are fully informed about the requirements they have to adhere to if they do not want their licence revoked,” said Bobby Thulasi, senior food studies and surveys officer at the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality.

According to an external circular that was released by the municipality in 2009, all food establishments involved in importing, selling, preparing or serving pork products have to provide storage facilities that are clearly labelled and separated from those used for other foodstuff.

The circular also states that “pork products should not come into contact with surfaces of utensils or equipment that are used for other food products”, and that “separate, colour-coded cutting boards and knives shall be used for pork products.”

“Restaurants need special areas to handle pork products and the cutting booth and equipment should be in a separate area as well. Knives and other equipment have to be disinfected before they are used for other products. And these codes have to be strictly adhered to,” Thulasi said.

“Once these incidents are reported, our inspectors will immediately visit the site and, if there are any violations, the establishment can be fined from Dh5,000 to Dh20,000, depending on the gravity of the situation,” he added.