Temperature matters: 157kg of chicken and 61kg of meat to be disposed of in UAE

A total of 157kg of fresh chicken, that was being transported at an unsafe temperatures, will be disposed of immediately by order of the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s food sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).Chicken-Tikka_635549434140673686

An additional 61kg of mutton stored under unsafe conditions has also been confiscated and will be disposed of by the ADFCA, it announced in a statement sent on Monday.

The contaminated and spoilt food was found during random checks on fresh meat stores in the capital. Inspectors looked at the state of storage equipment, product quality, the condition of vehicles used for transportation and the adherence to food safety procedures during their visits.

Four vehicles used to transport the spoilt chicken were issued warnings for not maintaining the right temperature, and the two freezers that contained both fresh meat and spoilt samples were also isolated.

100 laborers hospitalised in Abu Dhabi with food poisoning

More than 100 laborers in Abu Dhabi have been hospitalized after suspected food poisoning.

The workers were reported to have eaten bad food at their accommodation camp in Musaffah during Tuesday night, causing them discomfort.

The men were taken to Al Ahalia Hospital in Musaffah on Wednesday in three company buses while others were taken by ambulance. Officials at the hospital told 7DAYS that they started admitting dozens of Asian workers in batches at around 12.30pm due to suspected food poisoning.

“All the workers were admitted at the emergency department. They complained of stomach pains, loose motions, headaches and some felt exhaustion. They were all given treatment,” said an official at the hospital.

(Daughter Braunwynn’s favorite video when she was 2-years-old.)


Workers’ ‘squalid’ catering unit in UAE closed after hundreds fall sick

The United Arab Emirates has made food safety a priority, and food service companies have apparently imported some Western-style BS explanations when people barf.

A spokesthingy for a labor camp operated by Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group, told The National.

"The safety of our staff is our utmost priority. … In more than two decades of operation, and serving 150,000 meals a day all over the UAE, this is the first instance of food poisoning at any of our camps."

Not much consolation to the 236 workers who were diagnosed with food poisoning; the catering unit was found to be operating without a licence and under "squalid conditions."

Investigators from the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) have closed down the catering unit at the Habshan Labour Camp after 117 workers were taken to Madinat Zayed Hospital on Saturday and Sunday, and a further 119 were treated on site at the camp.

Inspectors found cockroaches inside the water dispensers and destroyed 675kg of cooked rice which was kept in "unsafe conditions for more than four hours", according to a statement released by ADFCA.

The inspection report stated the camp, which caters for 2,200 workers, was "violating all norms of hygiene and disregarding the health consequences for the labourers."

Cross-contamination – mixing meat, poultry and vegetables, both raw and uncooked, in the same freezer – was apparent, and food products did not have manufacturing details on them, so may have been expired, the report said.

Mohammed al Reyaysa, the director of communications at ADFCA, described the conditions as "shocking" and said "the people behind this disaster will not go unpunished."

Abu Dhabi blames outdated food safety attitudes for problems, mandatory training for all food handlers by 2012

To coach little girls playing ice hockey in Canada requires 16 hours of training. To coach kids on a travel team requires an additional 24 hours of training. ?

So it seems reasonable to have some minimal training for those who prepare food for public consumption.

Some U.S., Canadian and Australian states or municipalities require at least one person at a restaurant or food outlet to have some food safety training, even if that person is at home in bed. Others require training for everyone who touches food; others require nothing.

So the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) is way ahead when it announced that all employees who handle food must be trained in hygiene by the end of 2012.

The food safety watchdog was straightforward yesterday when it said outdated attitudes to food safety are to blame for food workers failing hygiene tests.

The National reported that so far 40 per cent of workers, about 17,000, have been trained, and 60 per cent of those have failed the exams. Eleven per cent of all the emirate’s food workers have passed.

Earlier, the authority partially blamed language barriers for the problem, but yesterday it said the absence of a culture of hygiene and food safety in restaurants and food outlets was also a major cause.

Mohammed al Reyaysa, the authority’s spokesman, said,

“Unfortunately a lot of people think going into the kitchen and dealing with food does not need any science and anyone can do it. This is an old way of thinking and it is changing after the requirements and regulations being implemented.”

Mr al Reyaysa’s comments came after the release of a wide-ranging annual report, which detailed the agency’s programmes, draft laws, financial status and the total number of inspections and food establishment closures last year.

The high failure rate on hygiene exams raises questions as to why ADFCA’s spending of almost Dh1 billion in 2009 has not led to better results. Passing the tests is currently not a requirement, but Mr al Reyaysa indicated that it may eventually be obligatory for food workers in the emirate, posing a potentially protracted problem for employers.

It’s excellent Abu Dhabi is getting serious about requirements and puts them way ahead of many North American jurisdictions. Unfortunately, what constitutes a certified food safety course is often crap. So figure out what the barriers are to effective training and figure out what works and what doesn’t – what kind of training actually translates into food service staff practicing safe food preparation.

The best restaurants will not wait for a government edict and will go ahead and improve their training and compliance — today.

Name and shame arrives in United Arab Emirates

The Australians popularized the ‘name and shame’ approach to restaurant inspection disclosure (the Brits use ‘scores on doors,’ those in Toronto use pretty colors and Danes use smiley faces).

Mohammed al Reyaysa, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority’s spokesman, told The National today that restaurant operators promised to improve hygiene standards after the emirate’s food safety watchdog named 17 outlets that were temporarily closed because of violations, adding,

“When all efforts fail, we are left with no other option but to order the closure of the outlet that functions in utter disregard for public health and the law of the land. The health and safety of the consumer is the red line that should not be crossed in any circumstance.”

Of the 17 establishments that were closed this year, 15 were in Abu Dhabi city and two were in Al Gharbia.

They were allowed to reopen after the Food Control Authority was confident the violations had been corrected.

Mr al Reyaysa further noted the restaurants closed were “fraught with potential danger to the health of the consumers”, such as kitchens infested with insects, improper drainage systems and waste disposal, and mixing meat and fruits.

He also criticized restaurants that complain inspections are too rigorous.

“We have clear requirements and regulations that are based on global best practices. We are not less, and our consumers are not less, than those in Europe and America. We do not sacrifice the health of the consumer so establishments can make more money or avoid having their names mentioned in the media.”

Emirates chef fined $27,000 for expired (by 1 day) yoghurt

Before the widespread use of refrigeration, fresh milk was often fermented into yoghurt, chesse and other dairy products for long-term storage.

So in what seems an excessively harsh penalty, if true, a British chef at a restaurant in the Emirates Palace hotel is appealing his U.S. $27,000 fine after inspectors from Abu Dhabi Municipality found the yoghurt during a routine visit to the kitchen of the Etoiles restaurant and lounge about a month ago. ??????

The head chef, identified as PH, was convicted and ordered to pay Dh70,000 for not educating his staff on the emirate’s food expiration laws and Dh20,000 for storing expired food. He also had to pay another Dh2,000 for the municipality’s fees.

PH appealed the court sentence in the past few weeks, and the case was referred to the Criminal Court of Appeal, where it was heard yesterday. ??????His attorney said the food was only one day past its use-by date; court documents do not specify when the food expired.

HACCP increases customer satisfaction

The Eye of Dubai reports that the Tawam Hospital in Abu Dhabi has increased patient satisfaction by implementing a HACCP plan.

Were patients, staff, and guests previously dissatisfied with their foodborne illnesses, I wonder?

 The CEO of the hospital, Mr. Michael E. Heindel, was quoted as saying,

“By implementing food safety audits and ensuring that staff at Tawam adhere to food safety standards and procedures we have been able to increase patient satisfaction and meet the [requirements for HACCP certification].”

The article, titled Taste and quality of hospital food on the rise, mentions several other improvements in the service of food at Tawam Hospital and seems to credit all of them to the HACCP plan.

It appears the culture of food safety stirring at the hospital has raised enthusiasm for improved quality of service overall.

To that, I say, “Hooray for HACCP.”