3320 complaints against Dubai F&B outlets in 2016

Municipality clarifies only little over 50% of the complaints received were 'correct'
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Sultan Ali Al Tahir, head of food inspection section, Dubai Municipality.
Sultan Ali Al Tahir, head of food inspection section, Dubai Municipality.

Last year Dubai Municipality received 3,320 complaints against food establishments and restaurants and most of them were in May as it was the beginning of high temperatures, leading to food corruption, said Sultan Ali Al Tahir, head of food inspection section in the Municipality's Food Safety Department.

However, he pointed out that the percentage of correct communications amounted to only 54.5%.

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Al Tahir explained that the Municipality registers complaints through three main channels, namely, the unified call center of the Municipality, social networking sites (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and e-mails.  

He added that many times the communications may not be correct, but the Municipality team has always been keen to confirm it regardless of the identity of the complainant.

Al Tahir pointed out that if the communication is concerned with hygiene, such as the presence of foreign objects in food like plastic or hair, contact is made first with the food establishment or the restaurant to see if the staff follow the correct procedures set by the Municipality or not.

“But, if the communication is related to the presence of insects, the inspectors focus their inspection on the cleanliness of the establishment, as to whether they have blocked all the entrances leading to the arrival of insects to the places of preparation and delivery of food, when was the last visit of the pest control company, and whether it has an ongoing contract with these companies,” he explained.

Al Tahir stressed that if there is a violation in the establishment, the inspectors will take the actions followed in the Local Order, and the outlet may receive a warning or a fine depending on the type of violation.

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    He pointed out that out of the 3,320 communications received by the department during the past year, only 1,809 communications were correct and 1,511 messages were incorrect. 

    Al Tahir added that 1,287 fines and 522 notices were issued against the establishments in cases of complaints that were proved correct. “The complaints were mainly concentrated at the beginning of the summer, as there were 345 in May with an average of 11 [complaints] a day, 246 in June with an average of eight a day, 284 in July with an average of nine reports per day, and 299 in August with an average of nine reports per day,” he said.

    Al Tahir added that there were fewer complaints during the cold months as the food does not spoil in such environments, and may not need high degrees of preservation.

    He noted that only 245 reports were registered in December and 246 in January, with an average of seven reports per day, and these were the lowest in the number of communications throughout the year.

    “The most frequent reports were errors in the translation of menu as they were not provided in Arabic, the presence of expired foodstuffs, poor storage of food, or poor ventilation, and the presence of foreign objects in foods,” said Al Tahir. 

    He added that the rate of communications in 2015 was five communications a day, which was less than last year, and the reason is that the public is becoming more aware of the importance of communication with government institutions, in addition to an increase in the number of food establishments and restaurants.

    Al Tahir said that some of the incorrect reports received by the Municipality against food establishments were caused by problems between customers and these establishments.

    “Most of them were because the waiters in the restaurant did not serve the food in time and someone complained to the Municipality against an establishment. Another said that he was annoyed due to the presence of pets at the restaurant. There was a complaint from a customer that the symptoms of food poisoning appeared within an hour of eating in a restaurant. But, the symptoms of poisoning from bacteria do not appear before the passage 12 hours, and may need 36 hours, and in some cases you may need 72 hours,” he said.

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