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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Qatar authorities close Subway, other eateries over insects, moldy food

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All photos courtesy of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment

With reporting by Riham Sheble

Qatar authorities have ordered several eateries to close temporarily this month after they were found to be using moldy or expired food and having insects on the premises and in ingredients.

A branch of Subway sandwich shop in Al Kharaitiyat, believed to be at the Taibah Petrol Station north of Gharafa, has been shut for seven days after an insect was found inside the food, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME/Baladiya) announced in Arabic on its website.

The ministry posted photographs taken by its inspectors that showed a small insect in the middle of what appears to be a bowl of salad.

Yesterday, Baladiya officials also shut down South Asian restaurant Al Iskandar in Muaither, west of Villaggio Mall, for 30 days.

Al Iskandar
Al Iskandar

Photographs showed filthy food storage conditions, rotten tomatoes in a fridge, a box of other moldy vegetables and dozens of tiny insects.

Official closure notices in Arabic have been plastered on the front of the eatery, advising customers of the penalty.

Just a few days earlier, a branch of the popular Thai Smile restaurant by Lulu Hypermarket in Barwa City was also closed for 30 days for using expired food, according to Baladiya’s photographs.

And last Thursday, Feb. 11, the Gran Caffe stall in Villaggio Mall was ordered to be shut for 45 days, also for having food that was past its use-by date.

Improving standards

These latest closures are part of an ongoing effort by authorities to ensure restaurants and food establishments that flout safety and hygiene rules are dealt with harshly.

As one of several public bodies charged with monitoring Qatar’s food establishments to ensure they comply with basic health regulations, ministry officials regularly undertake spot-checks of grocery stores, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants to ensure food quality is maintained.

In February 2014, amendments were made to Qatar’s food law 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 in Arabic on its website.

Pizza Hut in Umm Salal
Pizza Hut in Umm Salal

During 2015, the ministry (then known as the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning) ordered a total of 161 temporary closures of restaurants due to health and food control violations.

Inspectors conducted a total of 26,055 spot checks at various restaurants, eateries, juice stalls and food stores across Qatar. From these, there were 1,294 citations under Law No. (3) of the year 1975 covering health and hygiene regulations, it said in a statement last month.

This worked out on average as around one in 20 inspections turning up a breach of health and hygiene laws.

Do you eat at any of these establishments? Thoughts?

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