‘Mandatory’ rules changed for Shawarma outlets

Angel Chan

DUBAI 7 January 2018: The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) has updated the requirements for the processing and handling of shawarma sandwiches prepared from frozen and refrigerated Meat, to prevent the exposure of these food products to pollution as being perishable, and to protect the community from the risk of exposure to unsafe food to the public health, due to the lack of quality conservation and storage.

ESMA has developed the mandatory standard No. 1060 UAE.S GSO: General requirements for the processing and handling of shawarma in an effort to ensure conformity of products to the Authority’s safety, in the industrial and commercial sectors, and to raise the quality of products traded in the UAE, said Abdullah Al Maeeni, Director General ESMA.

It was necessary to establish controls for the trade of this product to ensure the protection of the health and safety of consumers as shawarma is a fast food product that is popular with a wide range of consumers, and thousands of sandwiches are sold daily in restaurants and road rests in general, and for students as well, he added.

The updates included seven clear controls concerning the components, facilities and places of processing, tools and equipment, sanitary conditions of the workers, preparation and processing of shawarma, packaging and warehousing, supply and sale- procedures that contribute to the achievement of more safety indicators in consumer goods, of any risks related to poor storage or supplying, he noted.

Engineer Khalaf Khalaf, Director of the Standards Department of ESMA, explained the main requirements for the food ingredients of Shawarma, which included that the meat used in the product should be slaughtered in a slaughterhouse according to the GSO standard, and the product is processed according to the same health conditions, and the product is completely free of all that contravenes the provisions of Islamic sharia.

The new requirements addressed the facilities in which Shawarma and processing places are located, provided that the establishment is legally licensed by the competent official authorities, the new mandatory requirements also prohibit the practice of roasting and selling outside the limits of the shop, in order to protect the food from external pollutants and sources of dust and pollution, he added.

ESMA has determined that the worker must have a valid health certificate issued by the official authorities, and they should be free from infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, wounds and ulcers, and adhere to the rules of hygiene during working hours such as washing hands with soap and water, and avoid behaviors that may lead to pollution of shawarma such as smoking etc.