Food Safety Practices for Retail Food Service Establishments


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Food Types

To begin with, a PIC needs to understand the common terms used to group different foods in the food safety legislations and guidelines. These groupings are related to the risk that the foods may contaminate other foods or may themselves cause illness, if contaminated or allowed to deteriorate. PIC should implement and verify controls suitable for each group.


What are ready-to-eat foods?

Ready-to-eat foods are foods that are consumed without further treatment or processing.


Examples of ready-to-eat food items may include:

Cooked, fried or roasted vegetables and meats, deli meats, sandwiches and filled rolls, dairy products such as milk and cheese, fruits, pre-washed/topped and tailed vegetables, prepared vegetable salads, whole salad items such as tomatoes or cucumbers, open and canned foods, oysters, shellfish, preserves and jams, condiments, bread, confectionery and biscuits.


What are high-risk foods?

High risk foods are foods which will support the growth of food poisoning bacteria AND which are ready to eat, or have gone through most, if not all, steps in their preparation which might control microbiological hazards like bacteria. Such foods required to be held at an appropriate temperature to ensure safety.




  • sandwiches, pizza, burger, roast chicken and other hot foods.
  • Manakeesh, Kebab, Shawarma, Samosas



  • containing meat, fish, eggs, cheese, cereals, pulses, vegetables, cooked poultry, cold cooked meats.
  • Curries
  • dishes that contain meat, poultry or fish like traditional mendi, biryani and pulav. Scotch eggs.
  • Sandwich fillings.
  • Cooked rice and products made with cooked rice like fried rice.
  • Products /side dishes made with cooked products. Hummus, Mutabel



  • meat, fish or chicken kebabs, pies, pizzas & ready made meals, partly cooked sausage rolls.
  • Fresh pasta with meat or fish filling. e.g., ravioli.
  • Cooked pieces of meat or fish for curries.
  • Foods cooled for



  • Oysters, sushi, Kebeneya.
  • Burgers or steaks that are eaten after partial cooking,
  • Raw liver, egg, milk.



  • sliced / cut after smoking or curing, e.g. cured coated meat or salamis & other fermented (continental style) sausages.
  • whole & sliced after smoking or curing e.g. salmon, mackerel, trout, haddock etc



  • Milk based Indian sweets eg: Rasmalai.
  • mousses, whipped cream desserts, cream cakes, ice cream, mhalabiya, sahlab, um ali, ruz bhalib, kunafa.



  • Ripened soft or moulded cheeses e.g. Brie, Danish Blue, Camembert, Dolcelatte akkawi, double cream, labneh, baladi cheese.



  • Vegetables salads including those containing fruit, coleslaw, potato salads.

Microbiological Contamination


Harmful bacteria & viruses can sometimes get into foods either in the ingredients, making up the foods, during handling, preparation & packaging, or after preparation during transport & storage. The bacteria may grow rapidly on the food if it is not refrigerated & then cause illness when it is consumed. Alternatively the bacteria may lie dormant causing a hazard only if product temperature is allowed to rise at a later time.


Physical Contamination


If prepared food or ingredients are left uncovered or unprotected during handling it is possible for foreign objects to cause contamination. Items such as pieces of packaging, hairclips or jewellery may fall into containers of food. Their presence may constitute an offence and lead to serious injury or complaints.


Physical Damage


Damage to vacuum packs, bags and protective packaging can result in opportunities for bacterial contamination and reduction in product safety or shelf life.


Chemical Contamination


If chemicals come in contact with food or ingredients during handling or storage, it is possible for chemicals to cause contamination. Chemical contamination can also occur if chemicals that are used for cleaning and disinfection are not used properly.

Microbiological Contamination


  1. Temperature control at all times in transport, storage & display.
  2. Rapid transfer of chilled products at each stage of the distribution chain without exposure to warmer temperature.
  3. Proper product shelf life/stock rotation to ensure microbiological safety & quality.
  4. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks & prevention measures.
  5. Good staff hygiene to prevent bacteria transferring from them to the food.
  6. Suitable premises and equipment so as not to harbour bacteria & dirt, and which facilitate cleaning.
  7. Adequate cleaning to remove sources of contamination / harbourage for bacteria.
  8. Extra precautions where open food is involved like buffet.
  9. Pest control to avoid bacteria being transmitted by insects & rodents.
  10. Monitoring and recording of food temperatures.
  11. Correct disposal of waste to avoid contamination of food for sale.
  12. Procedures to be in place if refrigeration/chilling equipment fails.

Physical Contamination


  1. Extra precautions for display of open foods.
  2. Correct handling of products to avoid contamination from persons, premises or general environment.
  3. Good staff hygiene to avoid contamination from hair, jewellery, clothing etc.
  4. Good cleaning systems to prevent debris & contamination from the cleaning activity. Proper control of cleaning chemicals.
  5. Pest control to prevent contamination from insects or rodents.
  6. Good waste disposal to avoid increased risk of infestation.
  7. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks & prevention measures.

Physical Damage


  1. Correct handling to avoid damage to container or product.
  2. Pest control to prevent damage to container or product by insects & rodents.
  3. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks & prevention measures.
  4. Storage equipment & facilities such as not to put product at risk of damage.
  5. Stock rotation .
  6. Extra precautions for open foods.
  7. Procedures for disposing of damaged foods.

What are Perishable Raw Foods to be cooked?

These are foods that are often contaminated with pathogenic or spoilage microorganisms and are stored chilled or frozen to minimise spoilage. They are cooked or processed before consumption and must be stored separately from high-risk and ready to eat raw foods. Examples include: raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products and whole vegetables.




  • Raw meats, poultry, Fish, Eggs
  • Fresh milk



  • Whole vegetables, Fruits

Microbiological Contamination


May result in spoilage or harmful bacteria and moulds growing in or on these products. Growth may not be rapid but safety and quality considerations will reduce shelf life. Bacteria may grow after heating or thawing.


Physical Contamination


May occur from dirt, debris, loose packaging. Any open foods must be protected from foreign objects falling into or onto the product.


Physical Damage


Physical damage to the product or packaging may render it substandard to the customer. Whether by mechanical injury or incorrect storage e.g. damp environments. The appearance and quality of certain products may be severely affected by bruising e.g. fruit & vegetables

Microbiological Contamination


  1. Good staff hygiene to prevent bacteria transferring to the food.
  2. Temperature control when re q u i red in transport, storage & display.
  3. Correct handling to ensure rapid transfer between chilled conditions.
  4. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks and prevention measure s .
  5. Stock rotation to prevent microbiological spoilage beyond shelf life.
  6. Adequate cleaning to remove sources of contamination/harbourage of bacteria.
  7. Pest control to avoid bacteria being transmitted by insects & rodents .
  8. The right equipment & facilities to enable correct temperatures, cleaning etc.
  9. Extra precautions where open food is involved.
  10. A sound structure such as not to harbour bacteria and dirt.

Physical Contamination


  1. Extra requirements for display of open food.
  2. Correct handling of product to avoid contamination from persons, premises or general environment .
  3. Good staff hygiene to avoid contamination from hair, jewellery, clothing etc.
  4. Pest control to prevent contamination from insects or rodents .
  5. Sufficient standard of equipment and adequate cleaning facilities.
  6. Good cleaning systems to prevent debris & contamination from the cleaning activity.
  7. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks and prevention measure s .
  8. Good waste disposal to avoid contamination of food for sale.
  9. procedures for dealing with emergencies

Physical Damage


  1. Correct handling to avoid damage to container or product .
  2. Pest control to prevent damage to container or product by insects and rodents.
  3. Suitably skilled and knowledgeable staff aware of risks and prevention measures.
  4. Storage equipment and facilities such as not to put product at risk of damage.
  5. Stock rotation .
  6. Extra requirements for open foods

What are low risk foods?

Low risk foods are foods which do not normally support the multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms and do not require to be stored chilled or frozen. They may be high-acid, such as vinegar, high sugar such as confectionery, preserves and jams, and dry products with a low water activity such as, cereals, bread and biscuits. Most canned foods are considered to be low risk until the can is open when food should be stored under refrigeration.

  • Foods preserved by a process of heating and packed in hermetically sealed containers while still in the container, such as canned foods, long life ready-meals.
  • Dried vegetables.
  • Packet soups.
  • Pickled foods.
  • Preserves and jams.
  • Dry pasta.
  • Dry pudding mixes or dry mixes for the preparation of beverages.
  • Chocolate and sugar confectionery.
  • Bread and biscuits.
  • Cakes or pastries (not containing cream or custard).
  • Frozen foods intended to be cooked before consumption.

Microbiological Contamination


Most of these products will not be susceptible to food poisoning organisms while in their normal state. Spoilage organisms such as yeasts and moulds may grow if shelf life is not observed.


Physical Contamination


Any open or unwrapped foods could be contaminated by packaging materials or other foreign objects during handling & display.


Physical Damage


Any damage to the packaging of these products may result in an increased risk of microbiological or physical contamination. Dented tins, squashed /split packets for example could allow metal contamination or taints to occur, or spillage from one pack onto others could occur. Incorrect storage, cold or damp environments

Microbiological Contamination


  1. Stock rotation to ensure quality and safety.
  2. Extra requirements where open food is involved. (NB This includes personal hygiene).
  3. Staff to be aware of risks and how to prevent them.
  4. Pest control to avoid bacteria transmitted insects/rodents.
  5. The right equipment and facilities to enable correct temperature maintenance for frozen foods.

Physical Contamination


  1. Extra requirements for display of open foods.
  2. Good cleaning systems to prevent debris & contamination from the cleaning activity.
  3. Correct handling of product to avoid contamination from persons, premises or general environment .
  4. Sufficient standard of equipment & adequate cleaning facilities.
  5. Stock rotation to avoid increased risk of infestation.
  6. Staff to be aware of risks and how to prevent them.
  7. Sound structure such as not to harbour dirt.

Physical Damage


  1. Correct handling to avoid damage to container or product.
  2. Storage equipment and facilities such as not to put product at risk of damage.
  3. Extra requirements for open foods.
  4. Staff to be aware of risks and how to prevent them.

Do all ready-to eat foods come under the high risk category?


Not all ready to eat foods come under the high risk category. There are low risk ready-to-eat foods and these are raw or cooked foods that do not support the multiplication of food poisoning organisms and/or the production of toxins and can be stored safely at room temperatures. However, such foods must be protected from external contaminants.


Examples of such foods are:


  • Packaged dry foods such as biscuits, unopened canned foods etc. However, the quality of these products may get affected if left open. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • whole fresh fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas and whole salad vegetables such as cucumber and lettuce. Some of these will need washing or peeling before consumption. Their life will be prolonged by storage at the correct temperature.


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The way we cook our food is as important as the way we prepare and store it. Inadequate cooking is a common cause of foodborne illness. Most foods, especially meat, fish, poultry and eggs, should be cooked thoroughly to kill most food poisoning bacteria.


How does the PIC monitor cooking temperatures to ensure that employees are properly cooking food?

It is the responsibility of the PIC to make sure food is safe for consumers. Therefore, a system must be in place (e.g., written record system) for routine monitoring of cooked temperatures of high risk foods.


Key points for the PIC in this regard include:


  • Set up a monitoring system that determines:
  • Who will check internal temperatures of foods.
  • When (frequency) to check temperatures.
  • What food to check and at what stage of production.
  • How to check temperatures (what thermometer{s} to use).
  • How and when to calibrate thermometers for accuracy.
  • How and when to clean and disinfect the probe of the thermometer.
  • What equipment to use and how to make proper temperature adjustments.
  • Train employees responsible for cooking to be sure they are knowledgeable of proper temperatures and critical limits for various food products and how to correctly check temperatures.
  • Take corrective actions if proper temperatures are not met, such as cook product longer, discard food, retrain personnel and other necessary steps.
  • Monitor employee practices periodically to ensure that the system is working.

What are the safe temperatures for cooking?

  • Raw animal source foods and food mixtures containing raw foods of animal origin shall be cooked to until CORE TEMPERATURE is 75°C for 30 Seconds or equivalent time and temperature to ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed.


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The control of temperature is essential in restricting the growth in numbers of bacteria and thus minimising the risk of food poisoning. For high risk foods in particular, keeping them chilled or hot is the single most important control in ensuring their safety.


Law: To ensure that food stays safe, you are legally required to ensure that high risk as well as perishable foods are kept either very cold (5°C or colder) or very hot (60°C or hotter) or at another temperature approved by the Dubai Municipality as safe.


What is temperature control?

Temperature control means maintaining food at a temperature of:


  1. 5°C, or below
  2. 60°C or above; or
  3. Another temperature - if the food business demonstrates that maintenance of the food at this temperature for the period of time for which it will be so maintained will not adversely affect the microbiological safety of the food.

To comply with the regulations you must keep high risk as well as perishable foods from animal source at these temperatures unless you can show that the time the food is at another temperature is safe. Safe alternative temperature control systems are explained later. It is safe for food to be between 5°C and 60°C for a limited time only, for example, while it is being prepared, because food-poisoning bacteria need time to start multiplying and to multiply to unsafe numbers.


Note: Some foods must be kept below 5°C to prevent the growth of certain food-poisoning bacteria. It is advisable to store food at the storage temperature recommended by the manufacturer of the food.




Bacteria need warmth to live and multiply. Generally, at temperatures of less than 5°C their growth is very slow and none of the foodborne pathogens grow when the temperature is above 60°C.The range between these two temperatures is known as the danger-zone where bacteria will grow rapidly and therefore it is necessary to avoid keeping foods at these temperatures. The preferred temperature for most bacteria to grow is between 20°C and 50°C which is the typical range of room temperature in Dubai.


Which foods do I have to keep under temperature control?

The temperature control requirements apply to all types of food businesses that handle or sell high risk foods and perishable animal source foods.


What are the foods that do not require temperature control?

Some of the foods may have been processed by the manufacturer so that they can be stored at room temperature *. Most of the low risk items listed in page fall in this category. This means that they do not need to be stored under temperature control for food safety reasons because they do not contain food poisoning bacteria or they will not allow the bacteria to multiply. Examples include canned and bottled food, dried fruit, salted dried meats, fermented dried meats, dried pasta, bread and dried foods. Raw whole fruit and vegetables also fall in this category.


* It is assumed that the room temperature is less than 25°C.


Note: Some of these foods may need refrigeration to minimise or prevent spoilage and meet their shelf life indicated on the label. Remember, it is an offence to sell food that is mouldy or spoilt.

Some foods that do not require temperature control may require being stored under temperature control if you alter the food in some way. For example, milk powder can be stored at room temperature because it is too dry for bacteria to multiply, but when water is added the milk has to be kept under temperature control.


Are there temperature requirements for frozen foods?

Yes - you are required to ensure that frozen foods are:


  • frozen when they are delivered to you; and
  • kept frozen when you store, display for sale or transport the food.


It is strongly recommended to keep frozen foods at -18°C. This temperature is important to maintain the quality of most products and where necessary, storage directions on labels or provided by the manufacturer should be followed.


Note: Frozen foods pose a low risk provided they are kept frozen solid. But, bacteria can grow rapidly during thawing if the time and temperature are not controlled.


When must I keep food under temperature control?

The regulations requires you to ensure that the temperature of 5°C or colder or 60°C or hotter (or at another temperature if that is safe) when you:


  • receive high risk and perishable animal source foods into your business; and
  • store, display and transport such foods.

'Store' means any time when you are not receiving, preparing, processing, displaying or transporting food. For example, a container of food on a bench top is being 'stored' on that bench top.


Note: When you are preparing high risk food you do not have to keep it at any specified temperature because that would be impractical. However, you must ensure that the time that food is at room temperature (that is, between 5°C and 60°C) is kept as short as possible to minimise the opportunity for bacteria to multiply.

Chill the ingredients to 5°C before you start preparation. Keep the preparation time as short as possible when you are preparing ready-to-eat foods such as sandwiches. These foods will not be further processed to reduce bacteria to safe levels or destroy any toxins that may form. As you will see later, the time that food is at room temperature during preparation limits the time that it can later be stored, displayed or transported at room temperature and still be safe.


What should I do if I don't know whether a food requires temperature control?

Most packaged food that requires temperature control are labelled with storage instruction. If unpackaged, you should check with the manufacturer or supplier of the food and ask if the food requires temperature control. You should also verify this with the inspection officer.


How do I measure the temperature of food?

When cooking, you will need a thermometer that can measure the internal temperature of food because the surface temperature may be warmer or cooler than the temperature of the rest of the food. This means that you will need a thermometer with a probe that can be inserted into the food.


While checking the temperature of the food displayed on buffet, check both the surface and the centre temperature.


The thermometer must be accurate to +/- 1°C. This means that when the thermometer shows that the food is at a temperature of 5°C, the actual temperature of the food will be between 4°C and 6°C. Check that your thermometer is accurate by placing the probe in a container of crushed ice that is just melting. The thermometer should read between -1°C and +1°C. If it does not, then it needs to be recalibrated or replaced.


Note: Remember to clean and sanitise the thermometer before inserting it into food. Wash the probe in warm water and detergent, disinfect according to the manufactureres instructions or the instructions that accompany your thermometer, and allow the probe to air dry or thoroughly dry it with a disposable towel.


How can I prolong the shelf life (storage life) of cooked food?

You can extend the storage time of cooked food by rapidly cooling the hot food to 5°C or below. Food cooled this way and then stored refrigerated should be consumed within 3 days.


The cooling process is explained below.


What are the temperature requirements for cooling cooked foods?

Law: You are required to cool food from 60°C to 20°C in a maximum of two hours and from 20°C to 5°C within a further maximum period of four hours. Alternatively, you can cool food over a longer time period but you will need to be able to show that your process is safe.


Cooked foods that you intend to cool and use later needs to be cooled to 5°C or below as quickly as possible. The less time that the food is between 5°C and 60°C during cooling, the less opportunity there will be for food-poisoning bacteria to multiply.



There may be food-poisoning bacteria in the food even though it has been cooked. Some types of bacteria can protect themselves from heat and survive the cooking process. The food may also have been contaminated with food-poisoning bacteria after cooking. These bacteria can multiply if the food is left for long periods in the danger zone (between 5°C and 60°C).


What is the best way to reheat such foods?

When reheating food for hot holding or immediate service, it is good practice to reheat food to temperatures above 75°C. This temperature will destroy food-poisoning bacteria that may have contaminated the food, or multiply in the food, while it was prepared and stored.


Reheating should be done rapidly, ideally in less than one hour. The reason for reheating the food ‘rapidly’ is to minimise the amount of time that food is between 5°C and 60°C while it is being heated because food-poisoning bacteria multiply between these temperatures. Food-poisoning bacteria cannot multiply in food that is 60°C or hotter, so the food can be held hot at this temperature until it is served to a customer without it becoming unsafe.


Note: Reheating to this temperature is not a mandatory requirement because it is not always possible to heat food to this temperature without spoiling its quality, for example, an egg-based custard or cold cuts and cold sandwiches.


Can you reheat food more than once?

Do not reheat food more than once. If food-poisoning bacteria are present in the food they could multiply to dangerous levels during the repeated heating times or produce toxins that cannot be destroyed with reheating.


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Good product handling is an essential element in the control microbiological, chemical and physical hazards. Great care must be taken during all stages of the handling that the food undergoes, i.e. delivery, storage, preparation, display and sale to ensure that they have been carried out as hygienically as possible.


How can I make sure that I am taking food from approved and known sources?

Dubai Municipality requires you to use suppliers from approved sources. These are food businesses that are inspected by the food control authorities in the respective Emirates. You can verify this by asking them for the latest food inspection report and a copy of their trade license. The license should clearly indicate the activity that they are involved in like catering, trading, manufacturing etc .


If the inspection officer asks you to do so, you must be able to provide the officer with information on the suppliers of any food on your premises and what that food is. You need this information in case food on your premises is found to be unsafe or contaminated in some way and has to be returned to the supplier or destroyed.


Although most, if not all of the food you buy will be labelled with the name of the product and the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or packager of the food, you may also have unpackaged or unlabelled food on your premises and will need other ways of proving what this food is and where it came from. You might do so using your supplier invoices, or you might keep some other record of your suppliers and what you buy from them and the food you have on your premises.


You must not accept food unless you can identify it and trace it back to its supplier.




After a delivery has been accepted, the food should be taken immediately to a designated storage area. Dry goods should be stored off the floor. Extremes of temperature and humidity should be avoided in store rooms.


What are the storage requirements for various foods?

Foods must be kept in storage conditions which are appropriate to the nature of the product.


  • Raw meat and fish should be kept in chilled storage.
  • Frozen food must be placed as soon as practicable in to freezer storage.
  • Food which have been defrosted should not be refrozen in a commercial scale without obtaining a process approval from the inspection officer.
  • Dry goods must be stored in an area that is clean, dry and infestation free.
  • Fruit and vegetables must be stored in a clean, infestation free area.
  • Chilled foods must be placed without delay into clean chilled storage.


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The correct storage and stock rotation of food is important to ensure that both quality and safety objectives are met. Stock rotation is particularly important for high risk foods where microbiological growth can readily occur. Stock rotation applies to all food types and failure to rotate stock can allow the product to become less appealing to the consumer due to staleness or changes in texture or colour. More serious problems may be caused by mould growth, infestations by insects, rancidity, slime and off odours. Failure to ensure good practices can result in problems of unfit or spoiled food and also considerable reduction in the shelf life of products.


Food Labelling Legislation requires that the shelf life of most foods be clearly indicated. It is an offence to sell or use food after the expiration date. For products that is not packed commercially ( in house packing), internal date code shall be used to ensure products are rotated on a "first in, first out" basis.


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Cleaning is essential to control the hazards of microbiological and physical contamination of foods. Different standards will be applicable for store rooms for packaged foods and for areas where high risk open food is being prepared, but generally cleanliness of equipment and structure throughout the premises is important in order to convey a positive image to customers and staff and a safe and efficient working environment.


The effectiveness of cleaning will depend upon the frequency (how often you clean) and the methods used.


What are the simple stems to ensure that food premises are clean?

  • Do not dirty the floors and walls in the first place. Avoid wiping everything on the table off to the floor.
  • Floors must be regularly swept/ vacuumed or washed as appropriate.
  • Regular cleaning throughout the working period (clean as you go) is good practice and prevents build up of dirt.
  • PIC must ensure that the the cleaning personnel understands and follows type and frequency of cleaning of the premises, equipment etc..


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What are the important issues pertaining to the use of chemicals?

  • Always use chemicals approved by the Food Control Department. Verify the documents provided by the supplier and contact Dubai Municipality if you are in doubt.
  • The type of disinfectant needed may vary according to the type of soiling, type of bacteria, contact time available and type of surface to be cleaned. It is recommended that advice is sought from suppliers if you are in doubt.
  • Chemicals should be stored in original containers and used before the expiry date.
  • Chemicals must be in marked containers and stored in a separate lockable cabinets

The supplier of the chemical must train your staff on safe use of chemicals. Care must be taken when making up cleaning solutions and manufacturers' instructions must always be followed.


How can I store mops and buckets?

Mops should be thoroughly cleaned after use and buckets emptied and then left to air dry. Do not store mops in buckets, since drying is impaired.


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A high standard of personal hygiene is essential in a food business. It helps to keep food safe from contamination. Staffs who maintain good hygiene feel good about their job and will make the customers feel more comfortable. Staff with bad habits will not only distress the customer but could also cause physical harm, or illness due to food poisoning.


Whilst it is desirable that all staff in retail premises display good personal hygiene, those who only work in other areas like office must also adhere to the requirements when they visit food premises.


Can ill employees work in a food establishment?

No employee who is known to have communicable disease which could be transferred directly by the employee or by the employee contact with food is allowed to work in food preparation and service of food.


The PIC is responsible for excluding and restricting the duties of those employees who are vomiting, have diarrhea or have been diagnosed with a food related illness. For example, instead of handling food, they could be limited to grounds cleanup until their illness passes. Employees are required, and it is their responsibility, to report food related illnesses and symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, to the PIC. If illness is not severe and symptoms are not acute, employees can be assigned to tasks that do not involve food handling until they are completely well ( free of symptoms for at least 48 hours). Paid sick leave must be provided to encourage staff to report illness.


What are the reporting and recording requirements for illnesses?

The PIC is required to keep a log of certain types of employee illness reports, and to contact the regulatory authority if specific types are reported by employees or customers.


What are the requirements regarding handwashing?

All employees who prepare or serve food must wash their hands and fingertips properly and as often as required by tasks performed.


This is particularly important


  • upon beginning a work shift and after breaks
  • after visiting the toilet, cleaning, handling food waste or outer packaging (e.g. boxes) and
  • between touching raw and cooked foods or their equipment and utensils.

What is the danger in allowing an unauthorised person into the food preparation area?

An unauthorised person may be unaware of the procedures in the food preparation area and can contaminate the food unintentionally. It is also important to protect your business from people who try to contaminate your food intentionally by adding any toxic substance to food.


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Good hygiene practices and high standards of cleanliness must be maintained at all times to minimise the risk of food contamination occurring. All food displays need to be supervised or inspected regularly by staff. Any obvious contamination or damage can in this way be detected and products removed from display if unsuitable for sale.


The most important hazard to foods is that of microbiological contamination. This is a particularly significant hazard when selling open foods from the high risk categories. These foods are likely to support the growth of bacteria if contaminated and stored incorrectly. Contamination of these products can occur readily when displayed in an open way by coming into contact with contaminated containers, equipment and utensils, hands, cleaning cloths or pests.


The hazards of physical contamination and physical damage are likely to occur in all open foods whether high or low risk. As these can lead to serious injury as well as to products not of the required quality, all open foods must be protected as far as possible from these hazards.


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Pests are animals, birds or insects which live in or on food and either directly damage it or contaminate it. Whilst damage itself is serious, many pests are carriers of bacteria which can contaminate foods and cause illness. Pests also contaminate foods with hair, nesting materials, urine or faeces or even their bodies.


How can I reduce pest infestation?

Dubai Municipality requires are food establishments to have a singed contract with an authorised pest control agency that can do the pest control operations in your premises. Pest control measures will not be effective if the following measures are not taken.


Exclusion or Preventing Access


(Proofing) - Buildings must be in good repair and condition in order to restrict pest access and help to eliminate potential breeding sites. If windows open directly into food preparation areas and are used for ventilation when food is being prepared, then they must be fitted with screens if there is a risk of infestation or of contamination. External doors should be kept closed when not in use and be well fitted to restrict access by pests. In food rooms where food is prepared, treated or processed and external doors have to be opened in warm weather for ventilation, screens must be fitted to keep insects and birds out. Domestic pets must on no account be admitted to areas where open food is kept or handled. Assistance dogs are permitted provided access does not pose a risk of contamination of food.


Restriction by Denying Harbourage and Food Sources


The availability of food and refuse, together with a source of water, encourages pests to harbour and infestations to develop. It is obvious commercial sense to use oldest stocks first. This helps preventative pest control too, by never allowing any potential centre of infestation to remain undisturbed and undetected for long. Waste food must not be allowed to build up so that it acts as an attraction for pests. Many pests, especially rats, need drinking water. Deny them this and they will go elsewhere. Make sure that access to cisterns is barred. Repair dripping taps. Ensure that staff empty wash basins. Flies will breed rapidly in residues that have become wet through leaks or poor drainage.


Traps and gratings must be kept clean and disinfected frequently to prevent flies using accumulated decomposing residues as a breeding site. The premises must be periodically visually checked for signs of pest presence.


Destruction or Eradication


Where pest infestations do occur these must be dealt with immediately. Treatments with chemicals, physical or biological agents must be carried out in such a way that they do not pose a threat to the safety or suitability of food. Continuous destruction of flying insects can be achieved using electric fly traps with ultra-violet lamps. Manufacturers' instructions on their location, cleaning and replacement of lamps should be followed. Where used, baits must be clearly identified and dated and kept away from foodstuffs that could be contaminated.


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When building your new food premises, it is essential that prior approvals are taken from the Food Control Department. By obtaining all the required approvals before starting the design and construction, you can reduce the possibility of expensive mistakes. Some important considerations to take into account when you are looking for a suitable premises:


  • Are the premises within an area designated for food production?
  • What kind of food processing do you intend to carry out?
  • Is the space big enough to cater to your intended activities? How about future plans for expansion?
  • How many people are you planning to employ?
  • What kind of items do you have in the menu?

What are the approvals that I require when I open a food establishment?

Site approval:


Food establishments must be constructed in a suitable area that is protected from sources of contamination. Site approval should be taken from the department of Economic Development in Dubai before making the layout and the plan.


Plans and design approval


Plans of the building must be approved by the Food Control Department when you design, build a new or existing food premise. The plans allow the Department to assess the proposed food premises before building starts. This saves architects, developers, and food businesses time and money. Assessment of the plans is called ‘design approval’. Before building or renovation starts, a copy of all plans drawn to scale must be submitted at the Food Control Department office in Al Tawar and approved.


I want to renovate my food establishment. Should I take a prior approval for this?

All type of renovations, small or big, requires prior approval from the Food Control Department. Submit the proposed plan and layout at the Al Tawar office.


Why is it important to have a well designed food establishment?

The layout and design of your establishment is important for many reasons. The basic function of any structure in food hygiene terms, be it a room or a whole building in which food is stored, handled or displayed is to protect the food from contamination. Poor arrangement of equipment may create food safety or health hazards, as well as impact the economic viability of your operation.


In a restaurant, good planning should allow for a smooth and orderly flow of food from storage through preparation to serving, and for the return of soiled dishes and utensils to the dishwashing area.


The design, construction and installation of equipment are also important to the sanitary operation of a foodservice establishment.


Note: Consultants are able to supply advice and assistance in preparing plans and developing layouts. Officers at the Food Control Department can also provide assistance.


What are key points to consider while constructing a food establishment?

Work flow:


Plan for a good flow pattern for handling foods; from receiving through to the serving.


  • Ensure adequate refrigeration and storage space to handle the volume of foods expected.
  • Ensure adequate separation between raw foods and cooked, ready to eat foods; and between dirty dishes and clean dishes.
  • Living areas, toilets and changing rooms must be completely and physically separated from any room where food is prepared, served or stored.
  • The layout and design must avoid situations where open foods are kept below areas that may produce contaminants.




  • When the plan is made, list all planned equipment.
  • A two or three compartment sink or commercial type dishwasher is required for dishwashing.
  • Provide a sink large enough to immerse the largest pots or pans.
  • There should be at least one prep sink for vegetable washing and salad preparation, one for meat and poultry preparation and one for fish preparation ( depending on the menu)
  • Arrange and install equipment to provide easy accessibility for cleaning.

Air supply and Ventilation:


Preparation areas must avoid the build up of excessive heat. It may therefore be necessary to consider the use of ventilation or air-conditioning equipment, or of heaters to ensure proper temperature conditions are maintained throughout the year.


Where air is drawn into clean areas, the location of air intakes should be carefully chosen to avoid the risks of taking in dust, dirt or odours or fumes from heaters. If fitted, screens/filters must be placed so as to facilitate removal and/or cleaning.


The layout etc. of the premises must provide adequate ventilation to restrict the formation of condensation. In areas subject to condensation, enhanced cleaning is required to avoid mould growth


  • All cooking equipment must be placed under exhaust canopies and mechanically vented to the outside.
  • Canopies are to be equipped with approved filters. Further consultation with the Civil Defence Authority is required regarding exhaust canopies prior to installation.
  • Care must be taken that air contaminated by dust, dirt or odours is not brought into food premises where open food is handled.

Sanitary Facilities:


  • The number of toilets and washrooms required will depend on the number of staff working in the kitchen. Washroom facilities for staff that are separate from public facilities.
  • All washrooms must be equipped with tight fitting, self closing doors. Washrooms and toilet rooms should not open directly into any room where food is prepared. But if this is not possible there must be at least an intervening space between, with doors fitted at each side.
  • All washrooms must be provided with mechanical ventilation exhausted to the outside.
  • Where it is necessary for staff to wear protective clothing, this must be stored in a clean area away from areas where food is handled. If staff need to remove their everyday clothes, a suitable changing area must be provided.

Floors, Walls, Ceilings:


  • Floor, wall and ceiling should have a light colour so as to enable you to spot any dirt on the surface
  • All wall and ceiling finishes in the food preparation area must be smooth, tight, and non-absorbent so as to be easily cleaned.
  • Ensure floor finishes in the food preparation, storage, dishwashing and washroom areas are non absorbent and are both non slip and allow for ease of cleaning.
  • Ensure floor finishes are both non slip and allow for ease of cleaning in all other areas of the establishment.
  • Base junctures where walls meet floor or counters should be coved for ease of cleaning.
  • Where necessary, adequate drainage facilities should be provided.
  • The inner surface of the roof structure will provide an acceptable surface e.g. pre-cast concrete, corrugated metal cladding, provided it is kept clean and does not shed particles. Alternatively a fixed ceiling of painted plaster, or plastic panelling or similar can be used.



Lighting fixtures must provide a minimum of 540 lux in any room where food is prepared.


Minimums of 110 to 220 lux are required in all other areas of the food establishment depending on the usage


Why is it important to keep food premises in good repair?

Any damage or deterioration of the floor or wall surface will inhibit or prevent cleaning and disinfection, allowing the build up of dirt and provide a breeding ground for pests and bacteria.


Note: Any loose, flaking or powdery material caused either by damage or general deterioration of the wall surface or coating could become a contamination risk to a product and must be removed and the area repaired as soon as possible.


How do I ensure suitability of equipments and their location?

Equipment must be constructed and kept in a state of good repair to reduce the risk of contamination from foreign bodies and lubricants and designed to facilitate cleaning.


Regular cleaning of equipment is required, with disinfection of those items that come into direct contact with high risk foods. Care must be taken in the installation of equipment such as slicers, mixers and refrigerators so that they do not become dirt traps.


How do I ensure that I have good handwashing facilities in my establishment?

Handwashing is one of the most important steps to prevent spread of foodborne illnesses. It is important to provide good handwash facilities to encourage staff to wash hands.


  • Provide a sufficient number of sinks dedicated to hand washing only (not to be used for any other purpose) in food preparation areas.
  • The number and location of washbasins will be determined by the type of business, size of premise and numbers of staff employed. The principal guiding factor should be that a basin should always be readily available for use. For small premises one basin will generally be sufficient. Consult with the Food Control Department
  • Where high risk open foods are handled a basin must be available for that area.
  • Basins must be positioned so that they are readily accessible.
  • All hand wash sinks are to be provided with hot and cold running water, as well as liquid soap and paper towels in suitable dispensers.
  • Taps must be foot operated to avoid hand contact after washing
  • Handwash basins must not be used for washing food or equipment.


How do I ensure safety of water and Ice?

Water from the mains supply in Dubai can be assumed to be potable. However, food establishments are encouraged to use a filter to eliminate any solid contaminants.


Any ice which is to be used in foods, or with which foods will come into contact must be made from potable water. Ice making machines must be cleaned regularly and periodically disinfected, in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions.


When water or ice is procured from an external supplier, verify the quality and safety prior to placing your order.


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Customer Complaint


All food establishments must have a procedure in place to deal with customer complaints. Complaints must be recorded in the format provided by the Food Control Department and if necessary, be reported to the Department.


What should I do if a customer complains to me about the food?

  • All customer complaints have to be recorded and retained in the food establishment. The PIC must handover the form the customer to fill it up or record the customer’s statement in the form.
  • Complaints must be immediately investigated and if something is wrong with the food, the food should be removed from sale.

What are the types of complaints that I need to report?

Following types of complaints must be notified to the Food Inspection Officer immediately.


  • suspected food poisoning,
  • sale of unfit food,
  • Sale of high risks food in inappropriate condition ( violating the rules mentioned in the Temperature Control Section of this book)

Other complaints related to must be documented and should be notified to the Food Inspection Officer as soon as possible.


Is there a problem if I do not report a complaint?

Reporting a complaint to the Food Control Department is a part of your corrective action and an important step to show your commitment to food safety. The report should be supported with written records and any other documents that could prove that you had taken all reasonably possible steps to avoid mistakes and yet, something happened. This will be verified by the Inspection Officer who is following up the complaint.


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What is a food recall, and what is its purpose?

A food recall is an action by the government, a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems. The purpose of a recall is to remove the affected product from the market when there is reason to believe it may be adulterated (injurious to health or unfit for human consumption) or, there may be a problem with the packaging or labelling ,or the recall may be caused by the discovery of contaminated product or deliberate tampering. It is essential that in the event of a recall, any instructions are followed quickly and if required, items are removed from sale. The date marking on the containers and the lot identification numbers will help you in identifying the products that are recalled.


You may also receive information from a customer or Food Inspection Officer that a customer has been taken ill after consuming food from your shop.


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The transporting of foodstuffs provides a significant opportunity for contamination and spoilage. Contamination can occur if foodstuffs are carried in dirty receptacles, are inadequately packaged or packaging is damaged due to improper handling. A further potential risk is introduced if the outside of food vehicles are allowed to become heavily soiled. Equally, consumers expect food vehicles to be clean!


Can I use any vehicle to transport food?

All vehicles that are used for food transportation should be approved by the Food Control Department. An establishment found using an unapproved vehicle or accepting foods that are delivered in an unapproved vehicle will be liable for penalities.


The type of vehicle used must reflect the risk associated with the product being transported. Vehicles used for transporting high risk foods must be enclosed with temperature control facilities and be capable of thorough cleaning and/or disinfection. Vehicles may need to be adapted so that they are suitable. If wet foods such as fish are to be transported then the interior of the vehicle may need to be capable of withstanding hosing with clean water.


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Food waste should be removed regularly from areas where it is produced or placed in containers provided for the purpose. Sufficient containers should be provided to readily accommodate the quantity of food waste ordinarily produced and positioned conveniently for the points where the waste occurs.


Garbage bins should have foot operated lids to avoid hand contact. In food handling areas, containers need not be lidded if they are in frequent use and are regularly emptied. However, external bins must always be lidded.


A defined area must be allotted for the storage of waste pending disposal. If this is inside the premises it must be away from food rooms and be readily cleanable.


Note: Liaise with the Waste Control Department of Dubai Municipality for further information about the requirements and services.


Why is a good menu design important?

Your menu selection will determine the facilities required in your establishment.


Some of the facilities that will depend on the menu are:


  • Type, number and location of refrigeration units needed - e.g. walk-ins, reach-in units and/or pastry display units.
  • Type and number of freezer units.
  • Hot and cold holding equipment necessary for safe storage and display of foods to be served hot.
  • Directional flow of food (receiving through to service) as well as staff (e.g. direction of food service versus return of soiled dishware to dishwashing area) through your facility.
  • Display units for ready to eat foods.
  • Preparation area and its separation

What is the best way to self evaluate food safety in an operation?

The best way to evaluate food safety is by observing what is actually being practiced or demonstrated. Most people know what one should do to ensure food safety, but it’s what is actually being done that helps ensure food safety. It is a good idea for the PIC to look at food processes that are designed to produce large quantities, require significant preparation or handling or are done far in advance of product consumption. Since the PIC can only see a snapshot of what is being done at any given time, it is often helpful to augment observations with open-ended questions (questions that can’t simply be answered yes or no) and to listen closely to their answers to assess their knowledge.


What are the training requirements for food handlers other than the PICs?

All food handlers working in food establishments in Dubai must complete the Basic Food Hygiene training provided by trainers approved by the Food Control Department. PICs must ensure that the language of training is suitable for the food handlers before the training is provided. Once the training is done, knowledge of the food handlers must be evaluated periodically by asking open ended questions on food safety practices.

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