MFDA raises concerns over poor hygiene during city-wide food inspections

Eateries and restaurants across Male’ are this month coming under city-wide inspection by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) for the first time in four years over hygiene standards, an area the government body claims “generally remains poor.”

Shareefa Adam, Director General for the MFDA, which forms part of the remit for the Maldives Health Ministry, told Minivan News that so far 32 premises had been inspected since the beginning of the month as part of plans to visit every registered and unregistered property before July.

At present, the MFDA said that two premises have been shut down on the basis of its latest inspections.

The inspections have been criticised by some Male-based catering groups, who claim to have been unfairly punished by MFDA officials they allege apply high-end resort standards to local businesses.

Accusations that inspectors are being too strict in their criteria was denied by the MFDA’s director general, who claimed they were using “basic” minimum hygiene standards such as cleanliness and preventing foreign materials from getting into food.

According to Adam, these standards were not fully understood by a wide number of proprietors in the capital, though any premises that were shut down could reapply to open again once they had corrected issues raised with their business.

“There is not enough training in food hygiene and we need to find ways to spread this message. For instance there are a large number of Bangladeshi workers in the food industry here and we need to find ways of communicating with them on this,” she said.

“Existing regulation is very simple and sometimes quite insufficient, so we are focused on minimum hygiene standards at present.”

Adam claimed that the month-long inspections would remain focused in Male’, before possibly being expanded to other islands at a later date. The MFDA director general said she believed that further inspections of all the catering establishments in the capital would take the entire month to complete.

“It takes quite a long time to complete these inspections as our staff numbers do not increase, yet the number of restaurants certainly does. We are looking at the standards of all food outlets, which are very poor in some places,” she claimed. “Some are not even registered with the MFDA at all and these must be closed down and then registered with us.”

Food outlet criticism

Hassan Muhaimin of Buruzu Catering Services, which was shut down this week following an MFDA inspection, alleged that the company had been punished for issues outside of the quality of its kitchens.

“We have a storage facility on the second floor of our building that is a locked room where we keep broken items and utensils. Although it was locked, the room was an issue [for inspectors],” he said.

Muhaimin said that despite some minor everyday issues in the kitchen, he felt the company had been judged mainly on the presence of materials like rat droppings in the locked storage room that had not been used in some time by the business.

“If there is someone operating a catering business downstairs, but someone else is living on another floor that isn’t being used by the business, should the company still be punished for issues on that floor? That is how I see it,” he added.

Muhaimin claimed that the store room inspected by the MFDA has since been cleaned out and the company kitchen was in the process of being refurbished, and said that Buruzu Catering Services would be hoping to appeal against the MFDA decision.

“I’m not aware of any other specific food outlets that have been closed down [during the ongoing inspections], but it is a huge blow for our company and will require some good PR plans to turn it around,” said Muhaimin. “We think it’s really unfair of the MFDA and raises questions about their own standards. For example, we purchase headgear [such as hairnets] from a company that supplies major resorts, yet [the MFDA] did not approve of them, saying they don’t cover the whole head area or the back of the neck.”

Muhaimin claimed it was his belief that the inspectors in some cases may be enacting top-range resort standards onto local companies and eateries.

Local teashop the Shabnam Café has also been closed after inspectors allegedly found rat droppings in the kitchen.

The owner complained to newspaper Haveeru that Shabnam Cafe that the droppings were not found in the cafe’s kitchen, but in a salted fish brought by an employee.


13 thoughts on “MFDA raises concerns over poor hygiene during city-wide food inspections”

  1. Maldivian customers are to be blamed for this...they go at any eatery anywhere and never ever bother to complain about the unhygienic conditions of the place,the waiters or the food..All they want is just eat any crap at any dirty place and eat whatever was served by any dirty smelly waiter who don't even know how to wash their hands let alone having had a bath for weeks..If these customers don't complain,why would the management of the place try to improve on hygiene standards?

    If The common Maldivian is insensitive to the need of food hygiene,no one can help much...that's why now we see so many people with typhoid,gastroenteritis and food poisoning all over the place..People just don't care what they eat as long as they can stuff themselves and sit at these dirty unkempt places full of dirty workers and talk about useless politics...True Maldivian style,as you will find out in most of the islands of Maldives that cleanliness is always overlooked....

    Forget about food hygiene,the whole island of Male' looks worse than a garbage dump..the roads are littered with dirt and overcrowded,betel nut spit stains all over the roads, unwashed workers loitering around,the cement bricks on roads worn out and unruly, motorcycle littered all over,garbage dumped on the roads,if it rains even a little, the dirty roads are flooded with no proper drainage,the floods with floating garbage and dead top it all, after eating in these dirty joints people come out and vomit on the roads..So all in all MFDA should raise concerns with all the authorities regarding the capital city island of Male' that has gone to the dogs &looks more and more like a garbage dump !!

  2. rat droppings seem to be an essential ingredient in hotaa cooking.

  3. the catering groups think MFDA's standards are too strict? I shudder to think what a health and safety inspector from a western country would think of Male restaurants. 90 per cent of these places would be shut down. Hotaas would cease to exist. In fact even in the most expensive restaurants, I think if customers looked into the kitchens of these places, they would be unpleasantly surprised at what they find. Luckily for the owners, this will never ever happen.

  4. if one looks at the awful looking wet & dirty piece of cloth that our Bangladeshi brothers who has no knowledge of hygiene standard rubbing on the tables, plates & glasses it's enough to understand today's situation in terms of hygiene standard.

    Look at the Bangladeshi brothers digging nose, spitting here & there, including the paved, nice and expensive roads of Hulhumale'....don't worry! most of them are illegal workers actively working at our food catering kitchens.....every year we are going to India for medical...some has kidney disorders, some get intestine ulcer that shall or could develop to cancer.

    Okay never mind! we can arrange Health Insurance schemes and keep treating....instead of setting up hygiene standards and introducing or encouraging healthy food preparation so that we have healthy people...if one look at our society, we see expatriate workers are eating fruits like apples and our Maldivians are eating 100 times fried short-eats with fizzy drinks dumped into the country that normally do not show place or country of production....also we are proud to have more than 100 coffees a day with 200 cigarettes....

    Future generation (dharinge dharin) shall really experience the dreadful situation! they would either be living here as heart patients or mentally sick so that expatriate workers shall enjoy the nice environment and most importantly the kind wives of this nation

  5. 'The owner complained to newspaper Haveeru that Shabnam Cafe that the droppings were not found in the cafe’s kitchen, but in a salted fish brought by an employee.'

    I think I see a staff training opportunity here. Any member of staff who is so ignorant that they can bring to work in a restaurant, fish riddle with rat droppings, should not be involved in any business that prepares someone else's food!

    I think this is the worst excuse for willful neglect by a proprietor of a catering establishment, I've ever heard.

  6. @Maldives: I cry for you!!!

    "True Maldivian style,as you will find out in most of the islands of Maldives that cleanliness is always overlooked…."

    This is absolute rubbish. Most Maldivians and their islands are cleaner than anywhere else in the world! You only have to read your history to find out how the small village of Male was kept clean and fresh daily only a few hundred years ago.

    When you have nearly 200,000 people cramped into 2 square miles, what kind of miracle are you expecting? I actually wonder how much Oxygen is left for everyone to suck.

    We don't even have to go too far back in history. 20 years ago, you would be hard pressed to find a single foreigner (Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan or Indian) either serving food or cooking at a Male restaurant. There were a few dodgy outfits, but most restaurants served decent food in a clean environment.

    Today, you have 1000s of Bangladeshis spitting their way around Male, with a standard of hygiene you won't even find a Mumbai slum! This is self inflicted, of course. We let this happen. We've got to sort this mess out.

    MFDA can take the big stick out and give a beating; but unless the underlying sub-culture changes, as soon as MFDA turns their back, you'll surely be eating rat droppings at your next meal!

  7. GOOD that MFDA is doing this! We want to see results!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Human health is not a political issue which should be treated with diplomatic words like 'concern'. No one should compromise on hygiene - it a matter of life and death.

    If proper hygiene is not being ensured in food outlets, due to any oversight of MFDA, they should be taken to court..

  9. "Muhaimin claimed it was his belief that the inspectors in some cases may be enacting top-range resort standards onto local companies and eateries."

    Wow, Muhaimin. If you work in the catering business and say something like that, you seriously need to take a step back and reflect on what you are doing. Ignorance can kill when it comes to food safety.

    There is a different standard between local companies and the resorts? I hope not. The majority of the food supplies that these "top-range resorts" use comes from Male. And if the Male operators do not maintain acceptable levels of food safety, they will be part of the problem for the resort food safety standards. Not a problem, they will import directly from overseas, from hygienic suppliers and cut out the dirty middle man in Male.

    Good work and a big thank you to the MFDA.

  10. Maldives: I cry for you!!!

    If by any chance, you are a Maldivian and living in the capital city Male, crying your guts out for it by only complaining about the many negative aspects; you are doing a worthless job!

    Maldives compared to many countries considered poor is way above them as already commented by Bin Suvadheeb.

    If you are not from up there (???), and cannot see anything other than the betel nut spit and the etceteras that you see in Male'; I would rather invite you to go through the history of Maldives as Bin Suvadheeb has advised, go to the beautiful islands, look, see and them comment without complaining!

  11. Poor hygiene is a regulatory failure by MFDA. Simple as that..


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