Photos courtesy of MMUP
Updated on Sept. 3 with the restaurant name
An eatery in Musheireb district has been closed down after inspectors found rotting meat and food infested with insects, health officials confirmed.
Officials from the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP/Baladiya) visiting Banany Restaurant on Abdullah bin Thani Street found an annexe with piles of expired food, including 50kg of meat which was past its use-by date.
In photographs posted by the MMUP/Baladiya on its Instagram page, some of the food was being stored in filthy fridges and freezers, their seals encrusted with mold.
Work surfaces, chopping boards, a knife and containers apparently used to protect food also appeared to be black with dirt and bacteria.
The restaurant was closed for the “preparation and preservation of food in unsanitary conditions”, in contravention of Law no.8 of 1990, regulating human food control, MMUP said in a statement in Arabic on its website.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Interior’s Capital Security Department, the restaurant manager and staff working there were also arrested and could face prosecution, QNA reports Mohammed Al Said, head of health control at MMUP as confirming.
The restaurant, which serves Bengali food, was not named by the MMUP when it first announced the closure. However, it has since updated its website to include further photographs of the establishment, one of which reveals its name.
According to Article 24 of the law, “any person who knowingly engages in one or more acts of human food circulation for the purpose of exchange against consideration when it is rotten, damaged or otherwise unsuitable for human consumption” faces a fine of up to QR15,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year.
The penalties can be doubled for a second offense, or if the food is found to be harmful to human health. If a person is permanently disabled as a result of eating the contaminated food, a prison sentence of up to four years and/or a fine of as much as QR30,000 can be imposed.
Additionally, Article 32 of the same law empowers the Municipality to close a shop or restaurant for up to three months if it is found to sell “rotten, contaminated or damaged food, or food otherwise unsuitable for human consumption or harmful to health or debased; or food that violates the specifications and is harmful to human health”.
The MMUP, along with the Supreme Council of Health, is in charge of monitoring Qatar’s food establishments to ensure they comply with health regulations.
It regularly undertakes spot-checks of grocery stores, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants and amendments were made to the food law last February that gave authorities more power to punish venues that serve meals deemed unfit for human consumption.
At that time, the ministry was also given the legal ability to name and shame closed restaurants, albeit only on its website.
Despite some initial skepticism of the spot-checks, the Ministry appears to be taking a tough line on establishments which break the law.
Earlier this year, a Doha court found a popular Turkish restaurant and five of its employees guilty of selling food unfit for human consumption and ordered the individuals to be jailed, fined and deported.
The manager of Marmara Istanbul, by TV roundabout, was jailed for three months and fined QR10,000, while four more employees were given one-month prison terms and fines of up to QR8,000. They were all ordered to be deported after they had served their sentence.
At the time, a lawyer for the defendants said they would appeal the sentences.
The convictions followed an incident in October 2014 when several residents, including a pregnant woman, became ill after eating at the Bin Omran branch of the restaurant.
Other well-known eateries which have been sanctioned recently by MMUP for selling out-of-date food include The Diplomatic Club in West Bay, which was ordered to close its Le Grill restaurant for 10 days, and the Millennium Hotel in Al Sadd, which was told to partly close for 15 days.