Food for Haj pilgrims under close scrutiny

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Makkah municipality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KSA, has said that it is taking steps to ensure that the food served to pilgrims by catering companies and restaurants this Haj season is hygienic and of good quality.

The municipality and the Ministry of Commerce have been engaged in separate inspections of eateries to ensure the best quality food for pilgrims.

Besides the vicinity of the Grand Mosque where most restaurants are located, officials have now intensified inspections in the Aziziah district which is housing a large number of pilgrims.

“The Makkah municipality has allowed 2,229 temporary vendors to operate in the Haj season in addition to 35,000 permanent shops in the Holy city,” Abdul Salam Mushat, head of public health inspection in Makkah municipality told Arab News on Saturday.

He said that the municipality has been deploying mobile inspection teams backed with the latest technology to detect the quality of food and the temperature at which it is being stored.

“We have slapped a fine of SR 22,200 on a catering company for not abiding by the regulations and also arrested 20 expatriates working as cooks for not having their profession listed on their work permits and for being without a health certificate,” he informed.

He added that the municipality has shut down 11 restaurants and food outlets in Makkah in the last 24 hours for violating public health standards in addition to serving warnings to another 250 food outlets in the holy city.

Municipality officials also referred 51 expatriate vendors selling food on the streets to the concerned security authorities.

“We are keeping a keen eye on every stakeholder in the food business starting from the vendors to the catering companies,” Mushat said.

Makkah municipality has established 26 centers in the holy sites to expedite services in which inspections of food outlets will be priority, he added.

He said that they had been checking live animals and cow pens to ensure that they were in compliance with health and safety standards and had had to remove several in recent weeks for being in violation.

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