Not halal! Supermarket Spinneys gets hefty fine after cockroaches found in salad bar
Spinneys supermarket in Cairo. (Creative Commons/Asim Bharwani)
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Cockroaches landed a leading supermarket, which is known for highest quality standards, in big trouble.
The Uptown Mirdif outlet of popular supermarket chain Spinneys has been fined by the Dubai Municipality after receiving a complaint from a customer who spotted the cockroaches in its salad bar.
Ali Reza, an Iranian entrepreneur, informed Khaleej Times the incident happened on Friday afternoon.
"I approached the food counter where employees serve pre-cooked food. While glancing at the different trays of dishes, I noticed several cockroaches crawling around the hummus, and the staff serving the food to customers were somehow inexplicably unaware of this," he said.
"I immediately snapped a picture in my phone, which alerted the staff. They hurriedly removed the tray from the counter, but did not find it pertinent to remove the other trays as well in case of contamination."
Following his complaint, the municipality's Food Control Department investigated the incident. Head of Food Inspection Section Sultan Ali Al Taher said proper action was taken to make sure that the violation is not repeated.
Though the firm was fined for the violations associated with the issue, the municipality did not disclose the amount of the fine.
"It is not about the fine. It is about the corrective and preventive action," said municipality's principal food inspector Bobby Krishna.
Officials acknowledged that it was a clear case of contamination.
"Ideally, the staff should have cleared all the trays," said Al Taher.
Asked about the risk level of contamination caused by cockroaches, the officials said it was not possible to explain precisely since cockroaches are considered carriers of germs.
"We won't know what it is carrying from where. For us, its presence itself is unwarranted," said Krishna.
There had been no complaints about food poisoning related to this issue.
However, Krishna pointed out that maintaining cleanliness in the premises and equipment is a big responsibility of food establishments.
"It is not just a matter of doing pest control, which is the job of a third party...A preventive approach is what we require. They have to make sure there is no scope for the pests to enter and grow. It is about cleaning, maintenance and monitoring."
A Spinneys spokesperson said in an email: "We will be reporting back to the Dubai Municipality with our corrective actions regarding this complaint."
"We are committed to maintaining the highest quality and food safety standards in all our stores and regret that such an incident occurred despite scheduled routine pest control treatments and additional inspection and monitoring audits carried out by DM approved third party specialists."
Reza said he was "quite aghast at such an incident occurring in plain sight in a well-respected outlet such as Spinneys, which is supposed to have the highest quality standards."
On two other separate occasions, he claimed, he had found packaged food items on the shelves (such as biscuits and chocolates), which were months past the expiry date.
"I had even informed the management of this after which they immediately removed the items. But this seems to be a continuing trend and I reckoned it as my responsibility to inform the public, regardless of how upscale the outlet may appear to be."
Spinneys did not comment about the allegations about the expired products.
The municipality investigated only the complaint related to the presence of the cockroach since the customer did not complain about expired products, which he claimed to have seen. Officials said customers have to inform the municipality through its call centre 800900 on such occasions as well.
By Sajila Sasseendran
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