Dubai, UAE: By early next year, Dubai Municipality will roll out its colour coding system to grade the level of hygiene and food safety in food outlets, a municipality official told Gulf News.
The new grading system will affect 14,000 food establishments in Dubai, including restaurants, cafeterias, catering companies and food manufacturers. “By the beginning of 2016, as early as January, all food establishments will have their inspection ratings on display for customers to see. This system will, in turn, increase transparency and ensure the quality of eateries,” Bobby Krishna, principal food inspection officer at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News.
This is the first time such a colour coded scheme will be implemented in the country, and the initiative will complement the role of the municipality’s 70 inspectors who are responsible for monitoring hygiene standards at food outlets.
Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of the Food Inspection Section, said the coding of food outlets will be Dubai’s new system to improve food safety standards. The colour card will be divided into five different categories — green, light green, yellow, red and white — each with its own points to grade the standard of each food establishment.
Dubai Municipality’s ratings will award a green card to eateries that score 95 and above, while a light green card will indicate a satisfactory rating that records less than five minor violations — equivalent to a rating from 90 to 94. A yellow card indicating a conditional pass will be issued when there is either one major violation or a maximum of seven minor violations, which will be scored from 75 to 89.
“With this one colour-grading code, we can increase the efficiency of restaurants and also reduce non-compliance issues, as it is normal for any food regulatory system to face instances where food outlets do not comply with safety standards,” Krishna said.
Currently, approximately 200 outlets have been awarded the A-grade green cards, which reflect their high rating with no records of violations during routine municipal inspections.
He explained that countries around the world have already adopted a similar approach where it has been made mandatory for food outlets to display their grade as awarded by regulatory authorities. “We have copied the best global practices and adapted them,” said Krishna.
A red card indicates the eatery has failed in inspections by recording either two or more major violations or more than seven minor violations, which indicates a score from 60 to 74. Once the necessary modifications are made, the food outlet will then receive a white placard where the final score will be pending until the next inspection.
Municipality officials further confirmed that the lowest three cards will not be displayed to customers so as not to taint the reputation of food establishments.
“Low graded restaurants will first be awarded a red card, but they will not be required to display it outside their entrances, as a municipality inspector will then follow up their case in three days’ time to monitor their progress,” he said. The issues can range from food stored in inappropriate temperatures to the way in which food is handled.
Krishna explained that if food outlets continue to receive a low scoring grade after the follow-up and violate health and safety regulations. “A white card is issued when the violations are rectified. If they maintain the standard, they will get a green card in the next routine inspection. This will not only be beneficial to diners but will also increase transparency from business to business,” Krishna said.
© Gulf NewsNov 2015