Aftab Kazmi/Gulf News
Al Ain: With the horsemeat scandal rocking about a dozen European countries, butchery shops in Al Ain underwent a surprise inspection on Tuesday. Inspectors were, however, not looking for horsemeat in local products but carrying out a random quality check.
“We are doing a routine check on food safety,” said Dr Ali Yousuf Al Saadi, Acting Director of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA). There are no chances of European horses being detected in any UAE-sold products and that is what the authority has already announced, he said.
Surprise inspections have been routine for many years, said Dr Al Saadi, noting that the ADFCA laboratory has a DNA testing facility for the detection of an unscrupulous mix of meats. Tuesday’s inspection was focused on gauging the risks involved in handling different types of meat in shops including mutton, beef, fish, and chicken.
With list of 29 criteria, inspectors checked butchers’ shops in Souq Zafirana, a popular shopping destination in Al Ain, and a number of other markets and shopping malls around the city. The ADFCA inspectors issued warnings to four sellers and made three observations of critical mistakes in food handling.
The butchers have been asked to rectify the situation as early as possible or face disciplinary action. The inspectors also found around 10kg of prawn unfit for human consumption and threw it away. There are 176 butchery shops in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi of which only the shops in Al Ain city were inspected on Tuesday.
Dr Al Saadi said the ADFCA had always ensured compliance with the rules and regulations. Meat sellers are required by law to apply the HACCP (Analysis and Critical Control Points) system to ensure food safety. Inspectors used hi-tech electronic gadgets to check hygiene and quality of the products at different shops in the city.
He said that meat products available in the local market were completely safe and consumers need not worry. UAE mainly imports live animal stocks from countries that are internationally known for best farming practices. The ADFCA also follows strict standards for frozen and halal food items.
When asked about non-halal ingredients in poultry feed, Dr Al Saadi said the authority had been monitoring this. The tests done in the ADFCA labs are accurate to the point of detecting even minute quantities of meat species such as pork, he added.
He added that food inspectors, in the course of routine inspection visits, also conduct food safety and hygiene awareness sessions for employees in food establishments including hygienic requirements for food processing, display and transportation. They also supervise the recall and destruction of unfit food.