Dubai’s eateries flouting food safety rules consistently will soon be “treated” by a “Food Safety Clinic” launched by the emirate’s civic body.
The Food Control Department of the Dubai Municipality has launched the unique clinic concept to revamp the food safety culture and practices in eateries that have been maintaining very low grades in the rating system after inspections.
Officials estimate that as many as 500 food establishments may require the “treatment” from the new Food Safety Clinic (FSC).
A team of officials forms the clinic which targets food outlets that have consistently scored “C or D” grades in the past inspections results, said Director of the Food Control Department Khalid Mohammed Sharif Al Awadhi.
“We are targeting the outlets, mainly restaurants, which usually have a high number of customers, but maintain poor records in hygiene and safety due to space limits, less training or other reasons. Eateries selling high-risk items will also be covered by the clinic,” he told Khaleej Times.
Municipal food safety expert Basher Hassan Yousif said the aim was to fill the gaps left even after inspections and training programmes. “Even if an inspector visits a food outlet six times a year, the maximum time he gets to spend over there is six hours. That is not enough to explain to them each and every corrective measure they can take. So, in his capacity, he will note (down) the violations and issue the fines hoping them to take corrective measures by themselves. But, we realised that some outlets need our support in identifying their faults and in correcting them forever in a proper way,” he said.
Once an outlet is chosen for the clinic’s consultation, the clinic’s team including the area’s inspector, senior inspector and two other officials from the department would visit the outlet for a comprehensive study on where it is failing over and again.
“We are visiting them not to fine them, but to fix their problems. This is neither a routine inspection nor a routine training programme,” said Yousif. Following the analysis of the food safety conditions of the outlet, the owner, manager and Person-in-Charge (PIC) of the outlet are called in for a group session with five such outlets in the same area.
“In the group session, we use photos to explain to them the wrong practices on their premises. We are not taking names in this session because we do not want to humiliate them. But, later on, we will have a one-on-one session with each outlet’s representatives where we will explain the violations found in their establishment and recommend the corrective measures they can take,” Yousif said.
Officials would recommend replacing the PIC of the outlet if he or she is found to be inefficient in communicating the standards and regulations stipulated by the municipality.