Abu Dhabi, UAE: Social media users have to be vigilant about rumours disguised as food safety warning before sharing them, a senior official told Gulf News on Monday.
"When you find such a food safety warning, please cross-check its authenticity with the official social media accounts of food safety authorities like Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority [Adfca]," Mohammad Jalal Al Raisi, Director of Communication and Community Service at Adfca, said.
"Food safety warnings are issued by authorities not by individuals," he pointed out.
He said some vigilant residents helped the authority to allay a rumour that some McDonald’s products sold in Abu Dhabi contained ingredients of pork.
"We received enquiries through Abu Dhabi Government’s call centre last week and preliminary investigations found that it was a rumour originated on social media. Still we did not take any chance and our inspectors took samples of McDonald’s products for lab tests."
The inspections and lab tests proved that "non-halal" products were not present in Abu Dhabi market at all, Al Raisi said.
The rumours quoted some Islamic institutions abroad as saying that McDonald’s products in the emirate, especially mayonnaise and spices, contained pork ingredients as they came from McDonald’s America.
The official said the authority confirmed that such products at McDonald’s outlets in Abu Dhabi came from Egypt.
Moreover, the UAE strictly follows the procedures to ensure that all foods imported to the country are halal.
"There is no way for any non-halal food to enter the UAE. There is no leniency on this issue. It is non-negotiable," Al Raisi said.
Appreciating the residents who reported the rumours to the authority, he said it is a good example for others to follow.
"Never share any food safety warning on social media, which comes to you even from known people. You can share it if you find the same message on the official social media accounts of the food safety authority. Otherwise report it to us, instead of sharing it with others," the official explained.
Sometimes rumour-mongers quote the authorities also to claim authenticity, Al Raisi said.
He was referring to a rumour spread in October 2010 through BlackBerry Messenger, quoting Adfca, and WAM (Emirates news agency), saying that aerated soft drink 7Up was banned in the UAE for containing poisonous substances. Allaying the rumour, the authority had warned people to be cautious.
McDonald’s was not available for comment on Monday.
In June 2013, Adfca also allayed a rumour quoting a doctor at a prominent hospital in Saudi Arabia, which said that watermelons being imported to Abu Dhabi from an Arab country were injected with HIV that causes Aids.
© Gulf NewsApr 2014