The Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality has further enhanced its food control measures for the holy month of Ramadan to ensure the safe preparation, display and preservation of all types of food and beverages before and during the month.
Sultan Al Tahir, Head of the Food Inspection Section in the Food Safety Department in the Municipality, said that this is due to the increased quantities of preparations in Ramadan and to ensure the health and safety of the consumers.
He said the section started preparations a month ago by conducting specialised inspections in food warehouses, consumer complexes and traditional kitchens, especially of Ramadan food, to raise their hygiene level.
He said these inspections will continue until the end of Ramadan and the municipality will tighten the supervision on traditional food and the like, which become popular during Ramadan and will be prepared in the public kitchens.
Al Tahir said the control will also be tightened on all preparations, the temperature levels of foods and the transportation vehicles to ensure their compliance with the technical conditions and specifications.
He said the municipality will also ensure the safety of ready-to-eat foods and also follow up on bakeries, confectioneries and factories of dairy products.
Al Tahir said that this week the municipality inspected 80 food establishments operating in the emirate, including food warehouses, where foodstuff is stored for sale to major food stores during Ramadan.
He said the team inspected warehouses, which contained items such as rice, flour, juices of various kinds and other materials to ensure they are stored in proper hygienic conditions and are in compliance with the general requirements laid down by the municipality.
"The food shipments have increased in the current period and all of them reach the warehouses in preparation for their display in the supermarkets and hypermarkets, in addition to the cooperative societies spread over Dubai, hence, we started the inspection of warehouses a week before the month of Ramadan, and two days before the beginning of the month we started the campaign in 30 major shops that display these materials," Al Tahir added.
Through daily inspection campaigns, the inspectors are checking the food stored in these shops as well as the display of Ramadan products. The routine daily inspections will continue throughout the month at all such establishments, he said.
As for the external display of foodstuff, he said, "Various food establishments used to display food outside their shops during the holy month, such as bakeries, sweet shops, catering companies, and traditional sweets. So, we made it compulsory for all establishments wishing to display their products outside to obtain the prior permission of the Food Safety Department.
"We have sent circulars to all food establishments in this regard in several languages to ensure the commitment of all. The circular includes the necessary hygiene conditions and requirements to be met in the external supply operations. The most important among them is the hot and cold food preservation processes, protection of food from external pollutants, and the need to ensure that the food establishments meet the requirements for the transfer, storage, preparation and display of food products.
"The temperature level should be more than 65 C for hot storage and less than 5 for cold storage and this condition should not be violated. Keeping foods at temperatures in the dangerous temperature range (between 5 to 65 C) leads to food decay, and cases of food poisoning.
"The establishments are required to follow several requirements to display the food and the time to be displayed. We have issued circulars urging food establishments to apply for the external food supply permits, which are issued annually.
"We do not allow food to be displayed throughout the day in Ramadan, but we have set its time as two hours before Iftar and during that period, our inspectors visit these establishments to ensure that the hygiene requirements are followed. They check the frequent violations they have observed over the past years, which include not maintaining the right temperature for food and improper food storage and preparation at these restaurants."
As for the Ramadan tents, Al Tahir said that inspection teams were directed to follow up on the food establishments operating in the emirate, including tents in hotels, to urge them to comply with the hygiene conditions in the preparation, delivery and transport of food during Ramadan.