UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Dubai expert seeks to calm E. coli fears
Posted: December 30th, 2010 - 3:48pm
Source: The National
DUBAI -- There have been no confirmed cases of illness linked to E. coli bacteria in the city, authorities said yesterday, after reports that rocket salad leaves sold in Dubai and Sharjah were highly contaminated with dangerous faecal matter.
"To say that bacteria are causing harm to the public, we need disease data as well," Khalid Mohammed Sharif, the municipality's director of food control, said.
"We are currently working with the Dubai Health Authority on food-borne disease surveillance and till now we have not received any confirmed cases of illness linked to pathogenic strains of E. coli.
"More research is needed to find out the prevalence of any diseases linked to E. coli in Dubai and we will be happy to work with the universities and laboratories to find out more details about the issue in hand," he said.
Some restaurants and supermarkets across the Emirates are re-evaluating how the rocket salad leaves they sell are packaged and cleaned amid the reports. Others defended their establishments' practices.
A study by a researcher at the American University of Sharjah, reported by The National yesterday, found high levels of E. coliand other faecal coliform - the rod-shaped bacteria typified by E. Coli - on every sample of rocket bought at 64 different food stores in Dubai and Sharjah. The salad greens are also known as jarjeer and arugula.
It was not clear whether the rocket leaves tested were grown in the UAE or imported.
The tests were conducted by Dr Dennis Russell throughout the year, and as recently as last month. He said levels of harmful bacteria he found were higher than in a lavatory.
The firm relies instead on the stamps of approval from authorities in the exporting country, and those in Dubai who check imported produce. "All the supporting documents are there," said the Barakat business development manager, Jithesh Jayaraj.