Dirty restaurants

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Okaz

THE societal culture of “eating out in the market” has changed drastically from what it used to be about a decade or two ago especially with the middle class people.

“Eating out in the market” is a traditional phrase to describe all kinds of food taken outside away from home. This has become a cultural trend for every family whether through asking for delivery or going to the restaurants as part of the weekend outing.

The restaurants are crowded with people of all ages on all weekdays. At the weekends you will have to wait in a queue for a long time to find a free table.

Compared to this large number of clients, the service in most restaurants is acutely substandard especially when it comes to the quality of food to the point that the food you take may sometimes be contaminated.

The continuous inspection campaigns the municipalities usually brag about in the media reflect the magnitude of the health and environmental threats posed by the restaurants and the kind of food they serve to customers.

The municipal officials always talk about the large quantities of rotten vegetables and expired foodstuffs they seize from these places.

They also say cooks at some restaurants prepare food in dirty utensils using ingredients of unknown origin.

The placing of a glass barrier in front of every restaurant to show the customers the kitchen where the food is being prepared is no solution. The most important aspect here is the method of preserving and storing the foodstuffs.

Some inspectors spoke about finding flies in sugar and insects inside the refrigerators.

A tour of any of the five-star restaurants will reveal a number of violations, which make it imperative on the authorities to close down the facility for good. Such a tour, according to one of the municipalities, will reveal to us that the food is not properly stored and that a number of workers do not have health certificates.

These violations are found not only in the five-star restaurants but are common in cafeterias, the coffee shops, fast food joints and bakeries.

Some inspection campaigns discovered that street cleaners and drivers are employed in the restaurants to prepare food.

An inspector said some restaurant workers had wounds in their hands that could contaminate the food they prepared. He said these workers did not use gloves to cover their hands.

Worse than this, some restaurants use open courtyards to prepare food in a primitive and disgusting way.

The public health is not the responsibility of the government alone. It is the responsibility of individuals and society as whole, particularly restaurant customers who may get poisoned any time.

The “eating out in the market” phenomenon will increase in Ramadan. Neither the municipalities, nor the Ministry of Health or the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage will be to control this phenomenon alone. The solution lies in the awareness of society.

Ramadan is a month of worship and not voracious eating.


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