Important announcement for UAE shawarma lovers

You can dig into that shawarma sandwich without any safety qualms now, thanks to ESMA.

The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) has updated requirements for processing and handling of shawarma sandwiches prepared from frozen and refrigerated meat to ensure they are not exposed to contamination or pollution.

This will help protect the consumers from the risk of having unsafe food that can be health hazardous, because of lack of quality conservation and storage.

The ESMA has developed the mandatory requirement standards for the processing and handling of shawarma in an effort to ensure conformity of products to the authority’s safety norms, in the industrial and commercial sectors, and to raise the quality of the food stuff traded in the UAE, pointed out Abdullah Al Maeeni, director general of ESMA.

It was necessary to establish controls for the trade of the product for safety of consumers’ health, he said, adding that shawarma is a fast food that is popular with a wide range of consumers.

The requirement updates include clear controls concerning the components, facilities and places of processing, tools and equipment, hygienic condition of the workers, preparation and processing of shawarma, packaging and warehousing norms, supply and sale standards, procedures that contribute to achieving more safety indicators in consumer goods and handle any risks related to poor storage or supply, he said.

Eng Khalaf Khalaf, director of the standards department of ESMA, explained the main requirements for the food ingredients of shawarma included that the meat used in the product should be slaughtered in a slaughterhouse according to the GSO standard, and the product is completely free of all that contravenes the provisions of Islamic sharia.

The new requirements addressed the facilities in which shawarma processing units are located. The establishment should be legally licensed by competent official authorities. The new mandatory requirements also prohibit the practice of roasting and selling shawarma outside the limits of the shop, in order to protect the food from external contaminants and sources of dust and pollution, he added.

The ESMA has also laid down that the worker must have a valid health certificate issued by the official authorities, and should be free from infectious or respiratory diseases, wounds or ulcers. The worker must adhere to the rules of hygiene during working hours like washing hands with soap and water, and avoid any behaviour that may lead to contamination of shawarma such as smoking etc.