74% find restaurant legal waiver unappetising

Arabian Business poll shows diners would steer clear if asked to sign before eating.
74% find restaurant legal waiver unappetising
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 30 Jul 2008 01:08 PM

Diners in the Gulf region say that they would be put off from eating at a hotel restaurant that served legal waivers with orders of beef patties served anything but well done, according to an Arabian Business poll.

Our online poll on Tuesday asked the question after it emerged that the five-star Shangri-La Hotel chain, which has hotels in Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi and plans to open another in Doha, Qatar next year, was using the legal document to discourage customers from ordering rare or partially rare hamburgers and to protect the hotel from “any consequences that may result due to the consumption” of such meat.

But nearly three-quarters of people who took part in our online poll said the policy would make them think twice about eating in their restaurants. Of those, 40 percent said it was the chef's responsibility to ensure the food was safe for customers to eat while another 34 percent said they would probably not return to the restaurant.

Hotel officials said that diners who order medium or medium-rare burgers were not required to waive their rights in writing, but waiters were normally obliged to ask diners to give their verbal consent to indemnify the hotel from legal action.

After that, the waiter is required to note the name of the guest, the temperature of the meat and the time at which it was served in the restaurant’s logbook for future reference.

But only four percent of respondents said they agreed with the legal waiver policy while a further 22 percent thought the move was a case of health and safety rules going too far.

Eating rare or raw ground beef carries the risk of illness from pathogenic strains of bacteria, mostly variants of the E.coli species. Thoroughly cooking the meat reduces the risk of infection to almost nil.

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