After giving my speech this afternoon at the 6th Annual Dubai Food Safety Conference, I was approached by a reporter or Gulf News about my thoughts that the doctor, a restaurant’s cook and a supervisor had been fined Dh10,000 each (about $2,750US), and ordered to jointly pay diyaa or blood money (money or some sort of compensation paid by an offender (usually a murderer) or his family group to the family or kin group of the victim) jointly in the amount of Dh200,000 (about $55,000US) to the parents of a five-year-old boy, Nathan D’Souza, and his seven-year-old sister Chelsea, who died of food poisoning in 2009.
The cook and the supervisor were convicted of violating the public health requirements of Dubai Municipality through unhygienic practices in preserving the food, which led to bacterial contamination. The doctor was convicted of providing negligent medical care to the children when they were admitted to hospital after eating a meal from the restaurant.
According to press reports, the deaths of these two children has been one of the latest in a series of high profile food poisoning incidences:
May 31, 2009: A four-year-old girl died of suspected food poisoning in Sharjah. The Indian family of four rushed to the hospital after series of vomiting.
November 4, 2008: Fourteen employees at a cement factory were hospitalized after consuming rotten food prepared at the factory kitchen in Ras Al Khaimah.
March 20, 2008: Six people fall ill after eating buffet food at a restaurant in Ibn Battuta Mall.
August 26, 2007: A 10-year-old girl died of food poisoning in Abu Dhabi
April 14, 2007: A three-year-old died of suspected food poisoning in Sharjah
It seemed like the people in the audience were engaged and focused.
UPDATE: On Tuesday AM, I was in the audiance at the Dubai Food Safety Conference when suprisingly the head of Dubai Municipality’s food inspection section today said the deaths of two children in 2009 were not the result of food poisoning, despite a court ruling that held the chef, restaurant owner and a doctor accountable. Ahmed Abdulrehman al Ali today said the tests that his unit performed showed no signs of food poisoning. He was speaking on the sidelines of the sixth Annual Dubai International Food Safety Conference, organised by the Municipality.
“By taking samples of the meal and the shared food with other family members, results did not show food poisoning. Neither did the lab or blood tests. This is a very sad case and we heavily investigated the samples from the leftover food the kids ate, but found no amount of bacteria enough to cause death,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. “As the Municipality, we never said this was a food poisoning case. Investigation does not mean confirmation. The environment and food was cleared from our side. It was a suspected case based on assumption.”
All this should continue the discussion of this very sad case.