Dubai: 451 food outlets closed temporarily in 2020 due to poor hygiene

File photo
File photo

Dubai - The Municipality carried out 69,500 food inspections last year owing to the pandemic.



by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 25 Jan 2021, 5:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Jan 2021, 5:52 PM

Dubai Municipality ordered the temporary closure of 451 food establishments last year, after authorities carried out a total of 69,461 field inspections.

On Monday, the civic body said the establishments were issued the notices due to poor hygiene.

Sultan Al Taher, manager of the food inspection section at Dubai Municipality, said the closure notices issued to the establishments last year were higher as compared to 2019.

The uptick was due to non-compliance with precautionary measures across the emirate, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The inspections targeted vital areas with a high population density and tourist areas that were frequented by a large number of visitors,” said Al Taher.

1,033 new food establishments opened

The official said that 1,303 new food establishments were opened last year, an 8 per cent increase over 2019.

“This is considered an indicator to attract investment in this sector in Dubai, given the ease and speed of procedures of the relevant departments, such as the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing,” he explained.

“Also, the Dubai Municipality has raised the standard of evaluation levels for food establishments amid the Covid-19 outbreak,” Al Taher added.

Smart transformation in food safety department

Al Taher said the Food Safety Department under the Dubai Municipality has paid utmost attention to the use of modern technologies. The move is in keeping with the Dubai government's emphasis on digital transformation, including the payment of fines, he added.

“The digital transformation has taken place through the smart organisational inspection system, which allows ensuring that the inspection process is carried out professionally and impartially. It’s a unified system for all inspection operations in the Dubai Municipality and the mechanism is compatible with smart devices,” Al Taher said.

He said that the system has been designed based on international best practices, and the assessment and the checklists are followed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the British Food Safety Agency (FSA), and the Australian City of Melbourne System.

The smart organisational inspection system is a colour-coded exercise. It is based on the number and category of violations detected during the inspection and auditing processes.

“The smart inspection system aims to improve the performance of resources and the speed of their completion, through automating the process of scheduling inspection visits, evaluating establishments, simplifying procedures (by linking activities to the inspection list), and promoting the principle of transparency,” said Al Taher.

Interlinked with Department of Economic Development

The smart inspection system is linked with the electronic licencing mechanism of the Department of Economic Development. Food establishments are classified according to the size of the activity, and the degree of risk, which belongs to high, medium and low categories.

“There’s a checklist according to each activity, and inspection visits are scheduled, based on an establishment's evaluation and risk. Reports are sent by emails and text messages, and the feedback from the establishments are sought for corrective actions, objections or complaints also,” said the official.

The system is also characterised by effective communication with the target groups of the inspection process such as supervisors, managers and owners of food establishments. “They can easily access their programme page, through the food establishment license number and view all inspection reports and results on their own. They can attach the corrective actions form to the results of the inspection and can also object to the results of the inspection visit, through a dedicated link,” he added.

The inspection mechanism was intensified last year owing to the pandemic, the authorities noted.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com


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