DUBAI // Restaurants that make claims about the nutritional and dietary benefits of their food they serve must prove them to Dubai Municipality.
Food establishments that must submit to food safety inspections must now substantiate their nutritional claims, it was announced on Wednesday.
“Everybody likes healthy food,” said Khalid Sharif, executive director of the municipality’s new food safety department. “Now, when they say the food is good for the hair, good for skin and diet, they will need to prove it. They will need our approval first.”
The new checks are expected to begin by the end of the year, with total coverage of those establishments that promote the healthiness of their meals expected by the middle of next year.
“There are so many restaurants in Dubai and many say they have healthy food that is good for diabetics, good for people who want to reduce weight, but we don’t want anybody to put those claims forward unless they have our approval,” Mr Sharif said.
The municipality has a team of 70 inspectors to monitor hygiene standards at restaurants.
Now, with the new initiative in mind, it will work with Dubai Health Authority to develop tests to verify nutritional values.
“Nobody was controlling [nutritional claims] but now, at Dubai Municipality, we will give the lead and we will control this,” Mr Sharif said.
“All the inspections will be more open, more visible to people, so the public can make the decision,” said Bobby Krishna, the municipality’s principal food inspector.
Coinciding with the new initiative is the 10th Dubai International Food Safety Conference, to be held on October 27 to 28.
A colour coding scheme for restaurants to inform customers about the establishment’s health and safety record is on the conference agenda.
In the plan, announced last year by the municipality, a red card would indicate that breaches had resulted in a temporary closure, while a green card would highlight safe practices.
Other key seminars will focus on camel milk, its export to the European Union, and the international aims of the halal food accreditation centre in Dubai - also run by the municipality.