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Ministry of Municipality and Environment

Closed Thai Smile branch at Barwa City

A branch of the popular restaurant Thai Smile has been temporarily closed by Qatar’s food inspectors for 45 days.

The eatery, which is near Lulu hypermarket in Barwa City, was one of nine shut down by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME/Baladiya) this month.

This is the second time in 18 months that the same branch of the restaurant has been closed by officials.

Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Last February, it was shut for a month after being found to have expired food.

Officials conducting spot-checks in mid-June found that the restaurant had flouted food safety laws.

Thai Smile will remain closed until the end of July, according to a notification in Arabic on the ministry’s website.

A photograph published on the site shows official closure stickers plastered on lights and other interior fittings of the eatery.

Food Master

Meanwhile, a cafeteria in Al Wakrah has also been shut until mid-August for having food in unhygienic conditions.

Ministry of Municipality and Environment

Closed Food Master cafeteria

Food Master, which sells affordable Indian and Chinese fare, was ordered to close for two months after inspectors visited last month.

Photographs on Baladiya’s site show moldy vegetables and a filthy freezer caked with what appears to be blood and juices from raw meat.

Ministry of Municipality and Environment

Freezers at Food Master

The 60-day closure is the toughest penalty the ministry can impose on erring establishments.

Enforcing rules

These eateries are among nine outlets that were shut by ministry officials last month for flouting the country’s food regulations.

The others were closed for between five and 20 days and have since reopened.

The closures are part of an ongoing campaign to enforce safety and hygiene standards on restaurants, grocery shops and warehouses storing food in the country.

Inspectors have spotted many violations in recent months.

In March for example, they closed Colombo restaurant in Mesaimeer after a small animal – possibly a rodent – was found in food there.

MME

Rodent found in food at Colombo Restaurant

The MME has the power to close down establishments for up to two months and to name them on their website and in newspapers, although this is usually only done in Arabic.

Have you eaten in any of these restaurants? Thoughts?

MME

Seized meat

A whopping 2,500kg of meat taken from a store in the Industrial Area has been confiscated by authorities in a raid.

According to local media reports, the employees of the warehouse had been repackaging expired meat so they could continue selling it.

This is a violation of the food law, which was updated in 2014 to grant officials more power to punish outlets that store and sell food unfit for human consumption.

MME/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Municipal inspectors have since destroyed the meat and the case has been transferred to the “concerned authorities,” the Peninsula reports.

Name and shame

The updated food law also allows the government to name and shame erring establishments. However, for now this is only in Arabic and only on the Ministry of Municipality and Environment’s website.

And authorities can now also dole out harsher penalties for restaurants and food outlets breaching health and hygiene regulations.

However, some people appear to want those penalties to get even stiffer.

MME

Rodent found in food at Colombo Restaurant

Last month for example, a Sri Lankan restaurant was closed for the maximum possible number of days (60) after serving a rodent in a meal.

News of the violation sparked an outcry among some residents who called for Colombo’s permanent closure.

Thoughts?

MME

A “small animal” was apparently found in food served at the Colombo restaurant in Mesaimeer.

Authorities in Qatar have temporarily shut a restaurant in Asian Town after a small animal – possibly a rodent – was found in food served there.

In a notice on its website, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) said that the Colombo restaurant branch in Mesaimeer has been closed for two months for “serving unhygienic food.”

The MME published news of the closure on Feb. 28, along with photos of the dish with the rodent.

MME

The exterior of the restaurant

They also shared images of the outside of the restaurant, which is located near the Doha Cricket Stadium, just outside the Industrial Area.

Outrage

After Al Raya tweeted the photos this week, some Qatar residents responded angrily, saying that the 60-day closure was not long enough.

Translation: “Only 60 days? They should have withdrawn their license. Send them to prison and fine them.”

Another person lamented that “the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” while someone else tweeted that whoever was in charge should have been deported.

Violation notices

The temporary closure of Colombo is part of an ongoing campaign by the MME to take a hard line on food establishments that don’t meet basic hygiene and safety requirements.

According to the ministry’s website, 15 other food outlets in Qatar have been written up for food violations in the past month.

All of these were given lesser punishments than Colombo, with periods of full or partial closure ranging from 7 to 30 days.

MME

Improperly frozen chicken at Hot Pot restaurant

They included:

  • The Olive restaurant in Al Ghanim (closed for 15 days for having expired food in its kitchen);
  • The Al Sadaqa Butcher in Madinat Khalifa (closed for 20 days for preparing food in unhygienic conditions); and
  • The Hot Pot restaurant in Umm Salal (closed for 30 days for unfreezing chickens in an unhygienic way).

You can see full details of all closures (in Arabic) here.

Sri Lankan outlet

According to the popular ratings website Zomato, Colombo serves both Sri Lankan and South Indian food.

Zomato’s visitor score for the Asian Town branch of Colombo is relatively low – 2.7/5 – with one customer commenting that he had decided to give it “1/10 for cleanliness.”

“They had put a liquid soap in a bowl with a spoon,” a Doha resident, Fahad, wrote last month. “They don’t have enough money to get a QR15 dispenser, at least.”

An average meal for two at the outlet costs around QR45, the site said.

Have you eaten at this restaurant? Thoughts?