An average four eateries face closure every day in Muscat for non-compliance and failure to meet regulatory requirements.
This was revealed during a presentation at the ongoing food and safety conference at the new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.
While the total number of food safety violations reached 20,302 cases, 1,453 eating joints were closed in 2016 for not adhering to specifications in Oman’s Food Safety Law.
“This means that an average four eateries are closed everyday,” said William Wood, Lead Consultant at NHI Food and Safety Academy.
According to statistics, a total of 37 warnings were issued to food establishments daily in 2016, which totalled 13,443 warnings.
Almost 72 violations were recorded every day for non-compliance with requirements, resulting in 26,306 violations last year.
William said food safety has become a very important issue in Oman. “The rising number of non-compliance with food safety norms is a serious issue and needs to be urgently looked into,” he added.
Apart from the Food Safety Law aimed at safeguarding public health and strengthening consumer safety, the Muscat Municipality stipulates hefty fine and closure of establishments for non-compliance.
According to the civic rules, a restaurant or any other eating joint can be closed for a period of up to 10 days and fined RO 2,000.
In cases of repeat violations, offenders can be forced to pull down their shutters for at least six months. The presentation by William stressed that the hotel industry in the Sultanate is seeing its peak growth.
“Hotel business is catching up rapidly. The market place is ripe for starting businesses,” he opined. At the same time, he said there should not be any compromise on hygiene and safety. “Authorities should intensify inspections and raise the mantle for food safety standards to improve more,” he said.
The government of Oman has not left any stone unturned in taking legislative measures in dealing with threats to public health and consumer safety stemming from the import and consumption of unsafe food.
These risks are not only associated with expired and improperly preserved food, but also from the potential use of unsafe food additives.
Likewise, food imports from countries reporting outbreaks of epidemics such as avian influenza are subjected to rapid import restrictions.