Ten people in Abu Dhabi were diagnosed with food poisoning as a result of eating at the city's restaurants last year, compared with none in 2010, official statistics have shown.
However, only 11 restaurants were closed against 63 the year before, data from Abu Dhabi Food Contol Authority (ADFCA) revealed.
The number of people lodging concerns about food poisoning also marginally increased over the years from 109 complaints in 2010, to 112 in 2011.
A spokesperson for ADFCA said the reduction in the number of restaurant shut-downs was “a good indication of positive changes in the food safety situation in the emirate as a whole.”
Last July, the ADFCA said it was clamping down on “third class” eateries, after scores of restaurants were found to be flouting basic hygiene rules.
In the first half of 2011, two popular outlets were closed within a month for what the ADFCA described as “shocking” breaches of food safety, while a further 63 outlets received warnings.
One restaurant, the Al Ibrahimi in Madinat Zayed, was closed on the spot by health inspectors in May after displaying “utterly deplorable hygienic conditions”, including rat and cockroach infestations and piles of rotting food.
Another outlet, a branch of popular US restaurant chain Chilis, was also shut down after inspectors found overflowing sewage pipes in cooking areas.
“We treat all the reasons very seriously as they could cause many health hazards for consumers,” Mohamed Abdulla Al Fardan, deputy director of communication, told Arabian Business at the time.
“We will not be lenient with regard to any negligence or violation [of the law], regardless of the size, reputation or popularity of the food outlet.”
Data from ADFCA for 2011 showed most of the administrative closures during the year were due to repeated violation of rules governing hygiene and food safety, and rarely on grounds of insufficient paper work and non-possession or non-renewal of licenses.
In a bid to improve hygiene in restaurants, the authority said in January it would introduce more stringent standards for in the sector, whereby all restaurants and groceries would be required to develop a comprehensive Environment, Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS).
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