The Importance of Being Earnest about Eating-Out
Developing and implementing stringent regulations will benefit both the business and clients of Dubai’s dining out scene.
November 20, 2011 5:19 by Eva Fernandes
Highlighting the case of an almost lethal encounter with food allergens, The National published an interesting report on a move to introduce checks on food labels. Though currently in its formative stages, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and Water, Health Authority-Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) are formulating the plans for official checks on food labels. Dr Aizeldin El Gak, the acting director of public health at DHA, told the National: the food check law “will be approved by the end of the year, after which more details will be added to clearly define roles of various bodies and action will be taken to further reduce food allergy cases”.
The fact the DHA is only just considering introducing regulations to what may seem, like to most, the basics of the food industry is unsurprising in the UAE where infrastructure developed far more rapidly than the support systems to maintain it. And though the notion of the importance of allergen awareness is commendable, there are still concerns in the implementation of new regulations. There are a few, for example, who doubt attention will be paid to cross-contamination of food.
Dr Michael Loubser, an allergy specialist at Infinity Polyclinic in Dubai says “In the UAE, because it is so multicultural, we have a little bit of everything, which is why labelling is critically important. Chickpea and sesame allergies are just as life-threatening as peanuts.”
As life-threatening as allergies can be, here at Kipp, we find ourselves thinking the DHA should take the conversation to the next level.
The dining scene in Dubai, while well-developed and abundant, servers are often lacking in proper training and knowledge when it comes to what goes into the food they serve.
Kipp recalls one particular shocking experience at a rather well known dining institution here in Dubai: the waiter was completely clueless as to what ingredients went into the making of a particular dish. And when asked to find out, urgency was not on his agenda and he surely took his time about it.
Developing stringent regulations for the dining out sector will be beneficial to customers and to the restaurateurs alike. Meticulous and detailed menu cards with plenty of information concerning the nutritional value and possible allergens in the ingredients to boot, is definitely one way to start.
Of course while we’re waiting for the basic foundations of regulation to be put in place, better bring your antihistamine with you just in case.