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Food safety alert for Ramadan heat

MANAMA, June 14, 2015

A warning has gone out on the dangers of buying food from unlicensed street vendors in Bahrain during the hottest days of Ramadan.

Health officials are urging the public to report any cases of food poisoning, saying many roadside stalls neglect food safety, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Health Ministry public health and primary care assistant under-secretary Dr Mariam Al Jalahma said sending inspectors to different areas across Bahrain was not enough, and that they needed the public’s help, especially during Ramadan which is expected to start later this week.

“We need people to help, especially during Ramadan when those street vendors are out in large numbers and are found everywhere,” she told the GDN.  

“Street sellers are directly inspected by the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry, but people can call us and we will take action from a health perspective.

“We need awareness, these vendors may showcase good food but no one knows how they are prepared or at what temperatures they are stored.

“There are no shops, restaurants or kitchens for us to visit and operations related to production and hygiene are not being monitored by us.”

Dr Al Jalahma said people should always buy food from licensed outlets, which could be penalised if health regulations were breached. “There are several violating restaurants which mostly rectify their violations within a week as we impose a minimum fine of BD10, but that will change when the new Public Health Law, which is with the Shura Council, is approved,” she explained.

“Ramadan tents are open until late hours of the night, whether it is the restaurant or the sheesha section, which requires us to have late work inspections.

“However, it is now easier for us to do work with hotels after the introduction of new regulations allowing them to serve sheesha throughout the year, which means that they are ready to serve in line with our criteria.

“There are already 60 violating sheesha cafés operating without proper licences and legal action has been taken.”

Two hotlines have been set up to report any violations; 39427743 to report general violations and 66399755 for smoking related violations.

A total of 54,968 inspection visits were conducted in 2014 by 25 inspectors from the food safety and licences group, which closed 41 of around 7,000 registered outlets, the GDN reported in April.

Efforts to monitor food safety include the Smart Inspection Project, which was launched in Bahrain in April 2012.

The project includes awarding food outlets that achieve a 100 per cent food safety standard a blue sticker, while those meeting 80pc of standards get a green sticker.

Outlets that fail to achieve basic standards are warned with a red sticker. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Summer heat | food safety | Ramadan |

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