15 sick: Salmonella in raw egg hollandaise shutters Dubai restaurant

Sajila Saseendran of Gulf News writes Dubai Municipality has shut down an American restaurant after 15 people fell ill following a food poisoning outbreak recently.

The Food Safety Department of the civic body ordered the outlet to close and held its chef and Person-In-Charge (PIC) of food safety responsible for the salmonella infection that caused the outbreak, the municipality stated.

The department has downgraded the food safety rating of the outlet and revoked its PIC certificate.

The outlet in a Jumeirah mall will be under strict monitoring for the next six months once it will be allowed to reopen after the closure period to corrective measures.

The team collected samples and conducted internationally accepted tests following which they traced the infection to raw eggs used in hollandaise sauce, officials said.

It was found that the chef had used raw eggs in violation of the food safety rules.

Following this, the department issued a fresh alert to eateries preparing food with eggs reminding them about its ban on using raw eggs in ready-to-eat products.

In 2012, the municipality barred Dubai eateries from using raw eggs in ready-to-eat products after authorities found them as a cause of many salmonella infections reported here.

New regulations that restrict the use of raw and under-cooked eggs were introduced and it was also made mandatory to declare their use in food labels or menus.

Dubai addressing shawarma risks

I’m on my way back to the US after a few days in Dubai teaching hotel, restaurant and other food business folks about stuff like sous vide food safety and measuring production parameters to reduce risk.

Bobby Krishna (below, left, exactly as shown), always the gracious host, showed me some cool stuff that Dubai is planning on launching as they prepare to host Expo 2020. One of the challenges the Dubai Municipality has tackled over the past decade as they modernize and add resources to their food safety system is balancing the traditional food stall/small business with addressing risks.

According to Gulf News, after a phase-in period, Dubai officials are enforcing new rules to make shawarmas safe again including proper facilities, temperature control and equipment sanitation.cwjw3kxxgaqy-q3

Almost 45 per cent of shawarma stands in Dubai will be closed, with Dubai Municipality enforcing its new rules for the sale of the popular Arabic delicacy in the emirate from November 1.

The six-month deadline given to 572 small and medium food outlets selling shawarma across Dubai to implement the new rules related to space, equipment and storage requirements aimed at enhancing hygiene and safety of the product ended on October 31.

Of these, only 318 have either made or are in the process of making the changes to their existing conditions as per the new guidelines to ensure the health and safety of consumers, the civic body said on Monday.

Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of Food Inspection Section at the Food Safety Department, said 146 establishments (25.5 per cent) among the 572 have completed the implementation of the new requirements before the deadline, 172 establishments (30.07 per cent) have begun the amendments and are still in the process of completing these.

The primary change that consumers can see will be the end of shawarma stands operating in an open area of an outlet. It is mandatory to move the shawarma stands indoors and ensure that they are not exposed to dust, dirt or any other external sources of pollution.

The regulations also make it mandatory to ensure proper refrigeration of raw materials, enough space for the storage of shawarma-making tools, separate facilities for defrosting frozen meat, thorough cleansing of vegetables and proper ways of waste disposal.

About a decade ago shawarma-style foods were linked to three outbreaks of E.coli O157 in Alberta, and I stopped eating them. Outbreak investigators found that traditional cooking practices including a rotating a cone of meat next to a heat source, were problematic, especially when the meat was cooked from frozen. A national committee was created to look at donair risks associated and the group recommended grilling post cone cut-off to ensure pathogen-killing temps.

‘Secret police’ is never good (unless it’s a ball) but will ensure food safety in Dubai

Inspections on eateries have been launched in the emirate, as part of preparations for the holy month, a Dubai Municipality official said.

secret.policeman's.other.ballThe campaign mainly targets Mandi places and traditional restaurants as they get more customers during Ramadan.

Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of the Food Inspection Section at DM, said food preparations, thermal control and vehicles used to transport food items will be examined to make sure the process complies with safety conditions.

The department will cooperate with residents and “hire a secret inspector who will help in detecting violations and make sure food suppliers abide by safety and sanitary rules,” said Al Taher.

A permit from the Food Safety Department must be obtained before displaying food during the holy month.

Here’s Bobby: Color code grades for restaurants in Dubai next year

By early next year, Dubai Municipality will roll out its color coding system to grade the level of hygiene and food safety in food outlets, a municipality official told Gulf News.

bobby.bittman.sctv.eugeneThe new grading system will affect 14,000 food establishments in Dubai, including restaurants, cafeterias, catering companies and food manufacturers. “By the beginning of 2016, as early as January, all food establishments will have their inspection ratings on display for customers to see. This system will, in turn, increase transparency and ensure the quality of eateries,” Bobby Krishna (right, not exactly as shown), principal food inspection officer at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News.

This is the first time such a colour coded scheme will be implemented in the country, and the initiative will complement the role of the municipality’s 70 inspectors who are responsible for monitoring hygiene standards at food outlets.

Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of the Food Inspection Section, said the coding of food outlets will be Dubai’s new system to improve food safety standards. The colour card will be divided into five different categories — green, light green, yellow, red and white — each with its own points to grade the standard of each food establishment.

Dubai Municipality’s ratings will award a green card to eateries that score 95 and above, while a light green card will indicate a satisfactory rating that records less than five minor violations — equivalent to a rating from 90 to 94. A yellow card indicating a conditional pass will be issued when there is either one major violation or a maximum of seven minor violations, which will be scored from 75 to 89.

powell_krishna_feb_12“With this one colour-grading code, we can increase the efficiency of restaurants and also reduce non-compliance issues, as it is normal for any food regulatory system to face instances where food outlets do not comply with safety standards,” Krishna said (left, me in Dubai 2012).

Currently, approximately 200 outlets have been awarded the A-grade green cards, which reflect their high rating with no records of violations during routine municipal inspections.

He explained that countries around the world have already adopted a similar approach where it has been made mandatory for food outlets to display their grade as awarded by regulatory authorities. “We have copied the best global practices and adapted them,” said Krishna.

Toronto uses a red-yellow-green system.

Food detectives: Students investigate mock poisoning in Dubai

What made many of the guests at Noor’s birthday party sick? Why is the school clinic full of students complaining of stomachache, diarrhea and vomiting?

food.detectives.dubai.nov.15Students from some Dubai schools recently got a chance to investigate such intriguing scenarios, thanks to an initiative launched at the 10th Dubai International Food Safety Conference.

Middle and high school boys and girls donned the roles of “Food Detectives” at the workshops titled so, and used their detective skills to solve the suspected food poisoning cases presented to them.

The Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department teamed up with Science Party Dubai to host the special workshops aimed at teaching principles of epidemiological investigation to school children.

Multiple case studies of food poisoning were presented to teams of students who used their detective skills to solve them. They also suggested ways to prevent food poisoning cases.

Arvin Jalali, a ninth grader from GEMS Winchester School told Khaleej Times the students enjoyed learning things that they had not taken seriously earlier.

“Look at all the bacteria around us. How all they can spread! We are really lucky that nothing happened to us so far,” he said.

His schoolmate Imran Hussain Tauqeer said most participants didn’t realise the side effects of what they often do and take for granted.

“Now we know many things about basic food safety. Now we know the importance of hand hygiene, temperature control, and bacteria in raw eggs,” he said.

Teachers present at the workshop echoed the same.

Martha Carol, a teacher with Dar Al Marefa School, said: “They came to know how bacteria grow at certain level of temperature which they feel safe, but is actually not safe. They realized it better when they investigated by themselves.”

New rules for Dubai shawarma shops coming up

New food safety rules for Dubai shawarma shops are expected soon and will cover the way eggs are used in mayonnaise for shawarmas as well as the space, layout, cooking, and storage standards for the outlet, among other points.

shawarma1013_1_portraitTheir comments came on the sidelines of the announcement of a campaign to train and educate some 4,000 food handlers in Dubai on food safety.

The campaign, run by the municipality and Unilever Food Solutions, was announced on April 7, World Health Day, which this year focused on food safety.

The shawarma rules could be implemented or announced by the end of April but it is understood outlets will be given a grace period to fully comply.

Shawarma, an Arabic meal made from shreds of grilled chicken or meat pieces rolled in pita bread, is one of the most common snacks enjoyed by Emiratis and expats.

The meat is piled up in boneless slices in a cylinder shape around a large central skewer rotated over a vertical grill.

Shawarma stands, attached to restaurants, are abundant in the UAE. They used to be found in the open air before officials directed they be moved indoors or confined in an enclosure.

On Tuesday, municipality officials said there was already an exhaustive Food Code available for all food outlets to help them comply with the hundreds of existing food safety rules to a greater degree.

Bobby Krishna, the department’s principal food inspection officer, said inspectors “occasionally find salmonella” contamination in shawarma shops and that some shawarma makers use raw eggs — susceptible to salmonella — instead of pasteurised eggs to make their own mayonnaise, which will not be allowed (Australia, are you listening?)

“If one person has an infected egg, one person falls sick. If you use that egg in mayonnaise — which will go into many shawarmas — many people will fall sick,” he added.

Chicken, the most popular meat used in shawarma, is another food source more commonly associated with salmonella infections than other foodstuffs.

“We are going very risk-specific. You don’t wait for food poisoning to occur. Shawarma by its nature is risk-prone. We occasional find salmonella; we found some unfit samples.”

He stressed however “we are not saying ‘don’t eat shawarma’.”

Residents spot rodents in restaurant at mall in Dubai

Everyone’s got a video camera these days, and they like to use them.

rat.restaurant.dubai.feb.15Pictures have emerged of rodents running loose in a restaurant located right outside a popular mall in Dubai.

Passersby have clicked pictures of rats running on food containers and have posted them on the social media, enraging many and some vowing never to eat at the venue.

One resident took on the social media and complained that he got sick after eating at that particular place.

The restaurant did not respond to emails sent by this website. However, master developer Nakheel, the operator of Ibn Battuta Mall, was quick to confirm that it is aware of the issue and has already taken action.

rat.restaurant.dubai.2.15“We are aware of this issue and have taken immediate action to rectify the situation, including alerting the appropriate authorities,” a Nakheel spokesperson told Emirates 24|7.

“This restaurant is a standalone establishment located outside the mall itself, and, under the terms and conditions of its contract, is responsible for its own health, safety and hygiene management. As mall operator, our role is to ensure that such obligations are met,” the Nakheel spokesperson added.

Dubai’s Camelicious hopes to export its camel milk to U.S. market

Officially called Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP) — but far better known by its playful brand name, Camelicious — the farm represents one of Dubai’s very few attempts at actually producing something: healthy, natural camel milk.

camel.milkAbout 250 people work at EICMP, on a huge tract of land covering 25 to 30 square kilometers.

“Dates and camel milk are part of the staple diet of Bedouins. This is what people here used to live from,” said company communications director Kirsten Lange, interviewed during our recent visit to EICMP. “Quite a few locals have camels. They drink the raw milk from their own camels, even though they might live in the city.”

At the moment, about 3,600 camels make up this operation, Lange said. The idea is to have 10,000 animals within the next two or three years.

So how do the workers keep track of all these dromedaries?

“The camels have numbers, but of course our vets know the old ones,” Lange said as she guided us around the farm. “Once in awhile, we give them names. Once we had a camel with lots of hair; we called her Tina Turner. They have GPS trackers on their collars, and we have a very extensive database. On every camel we have a huge database, and they get regular blood and urine tests.”

The point is to get these camels to produce as much milk as possible. The average camel gives seven liters a day, though not all camels are producing at all times. Daily production averages 5,000 to 6,000 liters, she said.

Last February, the company got permission from U.K. authorities to export its camel milk to the British market. The Camelicious brand is now available in selected ethnic stores in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bradford. Milk powder has also been shipped to potential partners in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. …

However, getting the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could be a long way off, especially considering that it’s still strictly illegal to import or sell camel milk in the United States.

As good as its camel milk may be, Camelicious won’t be doing business with one Middle Eastern country anytime soon: Israel. Besides the fact that the UAE and Israel don’t have diplomatic or trade relations, camel milk isn’t kosher — as any rabbi can attest — and is therefore prohibited under Jewish law.

Raw eggs: Dubai dinner cruise cook jailed after 5 women fall ill with salmonella

A cook has been jailed for three months for risking the lives of five women who became sick with salmonella poisoning after serving them a bacteria-infected chocolate mousse at a dinner cruise.

chocolate mousseThe 42-year-old Indian cook, R.M., was said to have failed to store the chocolate mousse in an appropriately hygienic place before it got hit by the bacteria.

Then he endangered the lives of the five women, of different nationalities, who happened to be enjoying a group dinner on a floating restaurant at Dubai Marina when they consumed the contaminated sweet.

Dubai Municipality’s inspector testified to prosecutors that the chocolate mousse was unsuitable for human intake because it was infected with salmonella. The inspector mentioned in the report that the cook used unpasteurised eggs to make the chocolate mousse.

Shouldn’t it apply every day? Dubai issues food safety instructions during Ramadan

All the food outlets that intend to display or sell food outside their premises should get prior approval from the department.

20140521_Ramadan-in-Dubai-2014In preparation for the Holy Month of Ramadan, Dubai Municipality has come up with a comprehensive plan along with stringent instructions to the owners of food establishments who plans to sell snacks outside shops during Ramadan.

The instructions issued by the food control department have been directed to all restaurants, cafeterias, sweet shops, bakeries and catering companies functioning in Dubai.

Khalid Sharif, Director of the Food Control Department said, “This year we have assigned a team of experienced food inspectors to ensure food safety for all preparing to observe the Holy Month. All the food outlets that intend to display or sell food outside their premises should get prior approval from the department.”

“Food establishments such as restaurants and cafeterias must co-operate with the department by adhering to the rules and regulations which are made to ensure safety and to avoid any possible risks to human health during the Holy Month,” he added.