Residents fearing rise in the price of Sharwama

Residents fearing rise in the price of Sharwama

With almost half of the shawarma stands on the brink of closure with the implementation of new guidelines to prepare them, residents have expressed concern over a possible rise in of cost of the sandwich.

The Dubai Municipality’s food inspection department on Tuesday announced the closure of almost a fourth of the Shawarma stands in Dubai. About 20 per cent of the stands completely stopped making the sandwich since the guidelines were announced six months ago.

A total of 572 small and medium food outlets were given six months to implement the guidelines. When the deadline ending on October 31, 141 of them (24.65 per cent) failed to take any action on the new requirements, which means they will have to be shut down.

Sultan Ali Taher, head of food inspection department, told Khaleej Times that large establishments did not encounter a problem since enough space was provided for preparing shawarmas.

“However, small and medium establishments sometimes lacked space, which could lead to health hazards,” said Taher.

Dubai resident Abdulrahman Hamad said he applauded the move since it ensures quality and safety. However, he noted that price limits should be imposed. “Most customers who ate at the stands were ones with limited income. There should be control over the rest of the small and medium stands so they don’t increase their prices.”

Ahmed Khalil, another resident, said: “If the price goes up, what alternatives do limited income individuals have?”

Another shawarma lover Rakan Al Bayok said he believed the new regulations will help in improving the quality of food. “It will avoid any possible cases of food poisoning, and in return, will help restaurant owners keep up good reputation,” said Al Bayok.

What prompted the new rules?

According to Taher, routine inspections revealed that establishments lacked enough space to prepare food, sometimes failing to separate sandwiches and salads. In addition to the occurrence of cross-contamination between meat and vegetables, sometimes the source of the meat itself was unknown.

“They did not have enough space to put other ingredients such as mayonnaise, garlic sauce, tahina and other things. They kept these outside the refrigerators, near the hot area meant for cooking and preparing sandwiches, which can spoil them due to the proliferation of bacteria caused by high heat,” said Al Tahir.

The new guidelines, however, stress on providing appropriate location for shawarma makers, as well as clean equipment, preparation tables, storage space and cooking process. Currently, 146 establishments (25.5% per cent) among the 572 have completed the implementation of the new requirements before the deadline and 172 establishments (30.07%) have begun the amendments.