Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has closed down a popular restaurant in Al Ain for flouting food safety rules and “exposing consumers to food risks” according to a statement by the authority.

Abu Halab Restaurant was ordered to shut shop for a number of violations including proliferation of insects, unclean cooking area, lack of wash basins and other bad practices, a press release issued by ADFCA said yesterday.

The licence of the restaurant has been withheld until the reasons for the closure are rectified.

Mohammad Jalal Al Rayssi, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA, said the restaurant was issued a number of warnings in the past, but did not pay heed.

“The restaurant did not have enough work space. Food items were displayed on unclean surfaces. The tools and equipment used by the workers for measuring temperature were inappropriate,” Al Rayssi explained.

He pointed out that the restaurant in question allowed domestic animals near food-consumption areas. “They did not have any arrangement for insecticide,” he said.

When Gulf News contacted the owner of the restaurant he said he was not aware of the allegations by the authority.

“We were asked to shut down as we could not respond to a warning issued by the authority to replace an old freezer in the kitchen,” said Mohammad, who identified himself by his first name.

He said he had already placed an order for the freezer and it would be delivered to the restaurant by late Wednesday evening or today (Thursday). “We expect to reopen thereafter.”

Denying the charge of not having enough work space, Mohammad said the kitchen was expanded as part of a renovation undertaken six months ago. About insects, he said he was implementing pest control measures every week.

“You may find cats on the streets but it is impossible to have domestic animals like cats inside a restaurant,” Mohammad said.

But the senior ADFCA official reiterated that the restaurant had been given a number of warnings in the past. A closure notice with all charges of violations was also issued yesterday, Al Rayssi told Gulf News.

He said the number of closure of restaurants has gone down drastically thanks to the “naming and shaming policy” of the authority. All food businesses are following the rules diligently thanks to this policy as otherwise they lose their reputation, he said.

The authority has been publicising the names of the food businesses that are closed down for serious food safety violations.

“We have intensified our inspections across the emirate. Our inspectors regularly monitor all food outlets, including on holidays and evening hours,” Al Rayssi said.