Sharjah - 90% discount on foodstuffs in UAE. How safe are they for use?

Sharjah - 90% discount on foodstuffs in UAE. How safe are they for use?
Sharjah - 90% discount on foodstuffs in UAE. How safe are they for use?

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - During inspection, the inspectors found that many food items vulnerable to getting spoilt.

Resist yourself from buying those food products offered at enticing discounts as many of these, which are nearing the expiry date could take a toll on your health.

The Sharjah Municipality has launched an inspection drive on outlets offering 80 to 90 per cent discount on food products to ensure their validity for consumption. Officials said that the inspectors take samples of such food products from theoutlets to test their quality and check their expiry date. If it is found that a foodstuff is not valid for consumption, the inspectors will confiscate and destroy it, after imposing a hefty fine on the outlets, they warned.

During inspection, the inspectors found that many food items vulnerable to getting spoilt if exposed are stored in an unsafe way, which makes them unfit for human consumption.

Omar Al Muhairi, head of the food control department at the municipality, pointed out that the inspectors are monitoring the food markets and are aware of the ongoing promotion of foodstuffs. "They conduct surprise visits in these outlets and check the validity of the products displayed for discounted sale. If they find a product that is close to the expiry date, they take samples and test its validity."

The civic authorities would conduct bacteriological, chemical and physical laboratory tests on these products in the municipality's food laboratory to ensure that they are free from health hazards and adhere to prescribed specifications, Al Muhairi added. "With regard to imported food, the expired products or items violating the product specifications' card are sent back to the country of origin."

He pointed out that the municipality wants to implement the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), a management system aimed at preserving the quality of food products. "The system is designed to control biological, chemical and physical hazards during the food production process, and would reduce the incidence of unsafe food reaching the marketplace. "

SEDD nod a must for promotions

Ali Fadel, head of the department of trade protection at the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD), said that they have taken note of the mega discounts offered by many food outlets and other businesses. In coordination with the Sharjah Municipality and departments concerned, the SEDD has intensified inspection targeting food outlets, including supermarkets, hypermarkets and grocery shops that are duping consumers with huge discounts of up to 80 per cent.

"The SEDD gives its permission to conduct promotions only after they meet the set requirements. We ensure that promotions or raffle draws are genuine. Our inspectors also drive around to ensure that all shops, fast-food chains, restaurants or entertainment companies announcing discounts have obtained permissions from the bodies concerned," he added.

The SEDD, teaming up with the Ministry of Economy (MoE) has imposed strict measures and controls on outlets that offer bogus discounts to attract the customers.

Mixed response

Some consumers expressed fear and concern about the cheap foodstuffs that could affect their health, while some were extremely delighted to be offered such massive discounts, as they felt "it will help save some cash".

Summaya Al Rasheed, a resident of Sharjah, said that she was surprised to see the huge sale on foodstuffs, which were nearing the expiry date. "They offer the goods for sale at very low prices in order to get rid of them and encourage consumers to purchase them without considering the harm these could inflict on their health and endanger their lives," she rued.

Humaid Al Zaabi expressed concern about the prevalent practice of displaying goods that are about to expire. "These products could lead to negative health fallout on consumers. Tighter control on the food stores that offer such goods for sale is required. The authorities should oblige them to clarify the date of consumption written on the box to consumers."

Latha R, Umaimai Hussien and Fawzi Abdullah believed that the discounted products will "ease financial burden" and allow them to "save some cash". They said they will buy such food products, and as they know the expiry dates, they would consume them before the date of expiry. They said that they, in fact, wait for the discount seasons when these items are up for grabs.

Wafa Al Rayeh, a nutritionist, said that consumers should not be tempted by the cheap price of a commodity. "Check the validity and date of expiry through the colour of the box from outside. Ensure that there is no air at the top of the box when it is opened. These products may experience changes in colour and taste, depending on the validity of the additives and preservatives."

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Afkar Abdullah

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