From shawarma spots to fine dining restaurants, the Health Ministry’s sweeping crackdown on food safety has, at times, been tough to stomach. Establishments cited for hygiene issues are dusting themselves off and moving forward with a stricter eye on safety measures and suppliers. Restaurant managers say that despite the negative publicity, they have been able to stay in business.
“We still have the same customers, the same people who always come,” said Malak al-Batata manager, Wassim Shaar.
The casual dining mainstay in Hamra was closed by the Health Ministry for nearly a week due to general hygiene issues and the need for renovation.
Shaar said that renovations to the kitchen floor had already been in place several months prior to the restaurant’s citation and subsequent closure.
“I told [the inspector] I need 15 days to renovate,” he said. “I was surprised that, three days later, they closed the restaurant.”
He said he consulted with food and hygiene company Boecker to improve food safety standards, and the restaurant has since re-opened with a closer watch on hygiene.
The Daily Star spoke to several establishments that were publicized for food safety violations. Many were reluctant to speak for fear of attracting further attention.
Beginning in November, Health Minister Wael Abou Faour publicized the names of more than 1,000 restaurants, supermarkets, slaughterhouses and farms for unsatisfactory food sampling or inspection results. Some were shut down, pending required improvements and standards. Many were cited for unsafe meat and dairy products.
Fine dining establishments weren’t exempt from the campaign. Zaitunay Bay’s upscale seafood restaurant, Karam al-Bahar, was cited for its soujouk, raw fish, makanek and shrimp.