Public health officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, are cracking down on restaurant owners for food safety violations and may dole out more jail time if a proposed law is passed.
The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has proposed a law that would allow it to impose tougher sanctions against food sellers and restaurant owners for violating the city’s hygiene regulations.
ADFCA has come under pressure recently in the wake of high-profile food poisonings. This week a four-year-old girl lost her life after eating at a restaurant in Sharjah and last summer two young children died after eating take-out food in Dubai.
The agency also reported this week that it had closed almost 70 food establishments and handed out may penalties including fines and jail sentences for egregious food safety violations this year.
“This is a complete system that deals with hygiene specifically,” Mohammed al Reyaysa, an ADJFCA spokesman told a local media outlet. “These regulations will be in place so that it’s obligatory for every food establishment to follow them.”
The proposed law would apply to all stages of food production and preparation and would require food handling training and medical tests of food handlers.
According to The National, a local English-language Abu Dhabi newspaper, the new law would be a major step for food safety regulation in the city. “Dubai has municipal regulations for food safety, but also lacks a proper legal framework to deal with food safety.”
It remains unclear if and when the proposed policy could take effect, as the measure still needs approval from the Executive Council.