Dubai: Next time you see claims on a restaurant menu on how many calories a burger holds, you can cast aside your doubts.

In a bid to encourage customers in making healthier choices when it comes to eating, Dubai Municipality on Monday announced that it will enforce stricter measures on restaurants and food eateries that claim to offer healthy meal options.

The move is part of the civic body’s initiative Eat Healthy — Live Healthy, which is expected to take effect within the year.

“If the restaurant wants to declare that there are 500 calories in the burger, they have to provide us test reports for supporting that claim. However, software programs that help to calculate calories based on ingredients would also be taken into consideration,” said Jehaina Al Ali, Food Studies and Planning Officer at the Applied Nutrition Unit at Dubai Municipality.

Speaking to Gulf News, Al Ali explained that the initiative will be carried out in different stages throughout the year, which aims to verify reckless claims by restaurants who say that, “their food is good in fighting heart diseases or that it can prevent diabetes.”

“The program will start with catering companies that claim to offer gluten-free food and other special dietary requirements, and from there, we will extend the initiative to restaurants,” she said.

The new system for issuing the permits would require food establishments to register first with Dubai Municipality’s Eat Healthy — Live Healthy initiative, and then submit documented evidence to support the nutritional and health claims for the foods in their menu. The documents submitted by the establishments will be carefully reviewed by the Food Safety Department and Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who will then visit the premises if necessary. After the documents are approved, a permit will be issued along with a logo that the food establishment can use on their menu to inform the customers.

Dr. Wafa Aish, clinical dietitian department with DHA said that there are several food service establishments who have reportedly made false claims about the calories in their food, either by presenting high calorie food as low or healthy through deceiving their customers.

 

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