Food being tested at a lab in Mecca. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Health authorities in Mecca are intensifying inspections of food facilities serving Muslim pilgrims, who are converging on the Saudi city in the lead-up to next month’s annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Teams are working around the clock to inspect pilgrims’ accommodations and collect samples from restaurants to ensure food safety and verify ingredients, including cooking oils and utensils.

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To facilitate thorough inspections, the Mecca Mayoralty has equipped high-tech central and mobile laboratories for analysing samples taken from food available at markets and restaurants in the city and other holy sites.

The central lab has an operational capacity of over 700 samples per day, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Additionally, three mobile labs are stationed in crowded areas around the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred site. These mobile labs can each analyze up to 150 samples daily, with results available within one to 18 hours.

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More than 2 million Muslims from around the world are expected to participate in the upcoming Hajj, with over 500,000 pilgrims having already arrived in Saudi Arabia, according to official figures.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, obligatory for Muslims who are physically and financially able to perform it at least once in their lifetime.