Consumers left in the dark over stale food

AJMAN - Amidst the acrimonious exchange of accusations between manufacturers of food products and the outlets selling them, on the responsibility for unfit food items and beverages and their odours, many consumers have been left confused and insecure.

By Afkar Ali Abdulla

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Published: Sat 1 May 2004, 10:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:16 PM

The issue the sale of expired foodstuff at various shops in Ajman was triggered off when a number of consumers complained about spoilt food products and beverages with foul smelling odours being kept for sale in the stores.

Mohammed Numan, a consumer who had bought a can of juice and found it unfit for consumption, told Khaleej Times that he had immediately called the manufacturing company to complain about the can. The company, after listening to his grievance, simply attributed the foul odour of the juice to sheer negligence and improper storage by the shop owners.

He said that improper processing or storage might chemically affect the food and its biochemistry. "Shop owners must take every precaution necessary to ensure that food and beverage stuff they buy from manufacturers are kept in the right condition in order to maintain the nutritional contents and ensure that they are safe for human consumption," he ponited out.

Another consumer, Mona Al Mulla said that she bought two cans of mixed vegetables only to find to her great surprise that on opening the cans the vegetables were found to be rotten to the core and absolutely unfit for human consumption.

"A large number of cans were kept outside the store, exposed to the sun. Common sense would have dictated that they should have been stored in constant cool temperature to prevent any kind spoilage. But that obviously was not the case here."

Al Zain Khalifa, another consumer, said that the malpractice of selling stale food and beverages which can seriously affect public health and well being, is pretty common in some shops in Ajman.

Khaleej Times brought the issue to the attention of Dr Mohammed Attia, Deputy Director of the Health Section of Ajman Municipality, who promised that the section would look into the matter and take serious action to curb such violations by shop-owners. "The municipality will impose fines on those who keep food products exposed to the sun and those who shut off the power at night in order to save a bit off electricity," he said.

Dr Attia said that the municipality would also increase the operation of the supervisors and inspectors to track down those who deliberately violate the health regulations.

He pointed out that the municipality warned around 343 owners of groceries and 50 supermarkets for violating the hygiene and storage regulations.

The health section inspectors confiscated 85 cans of mixed vegetables and fruits, 182 packets of spices and cinnamon, 135 cartons of biscuits and chocolates, 48 ackets of pasta, 106 bottles of coloured flavours and yeast, 96 cartons of ice cream, 36 kg of cheese, 210 chips packets, 125 kg of candies, six grilled chickens, two jars of jam, 850 kg of vegetables, 38 cans of tomato paste, 25 kg of oil and butter, 19 kg of tamarin and dates, 20 packets of bread, around 528 kg of meat and 1,089 kg of liver.

Dr Attia added that food inspectors also monitor the violations of food production and sale, classify these violations into categories, and set performance standards to achieve better inspection activities.

The inspection visits to food outlets are conducted frequently and a close watch is kept on any attempt to sell stale foodstuff or any other malpractice that the shop owners might indulge in and action is taken to rectify the violations since they pose a serious threat to the health of consumers.

A nutritionist from the GMC Hospital in Ajman said that people who often drink orange or grapefruit juices in chilled cartons should make sure the validity date is at least three to four weeks away from the expiry date, and try to finish the carton within a week of opening it since the juice loses Vitamin C with time. While the carton label may claim the juice supplies 100 per cent of the daily value for Vitamin C, it may have half that amount or even less, depending on when it was opened and how long it has stayed that way.

Confiscated products

THE Ajman health section inspectors have, so far, confiscated 85 cans of mixed vegetables and fruits, 182 packets of spices and cinnamon, 135 cartons of biscuits and chocolates, 48 packets of pasta, 106 bottles of coloured flavours and yeast, 96 cartons of ice cream, 36 kg of cheese, 210 chips packets, 125 kg of candies, six grilled chickens, two jars of jam, 850 kg of vegetables, 38 cans of tomato paste, 25 kg of oil and butter, 19 kg of tamarin and dates, 20 packets of bread, around 528 kg of meat and 1,089 kg of liver.


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