Free tap water in Dubai food outlets not mandatory, says municipality

Following its recent announcement about making free filtered tap water available in hotels and restaurants in the emirate, the Dubai Municipality (DM) now clarified that eateries may decide whether they will be offering it to their customers.

Earlier this week, DM officials told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the 13th Dubai International Food Safety Conference that Food Code 2020 includes a new clause that will make the availability of free filtered tap water mandatory in food outlets by next year, in a bid to cut down on single-plastic use.

However, retracting DM‘s previous statement to the media, Iman Al Bastaki, director of the DM’s food safety department, said: “The new Food Code says nothing about making tap water mandatory in hotels and restaurants. If the hotel or restaurant is providing filtered tap water, it must be safe.”

She added: “This is not a new requirement either. Water tank cleaning requirements have been in place for 14 years, and there is nothing new. The code says the water must be potable whether it is for bottles or ice. Don’t forget that ice is produced in machines that run on tap water.”

In a written statement to the media, the municipality said the new Dubai Food Code includes three updates related to drinking water.

First, water tanks and pipes system should be well maintained. Second, cleaning and flushing should be done by a company approved by the Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC). And, finally, samples should be collected and tested for drinking water parameters in a laboratory approved by the EIAC and should be found satisfactory.

In restaurants in the emirate, bottles of drinking water cost anything between Dh1 and Dh20, depending on the brand. Some even charge an exorbitant Dh5 for a bottle that retails for only Dh1.

However, a growing number of dining spots are now offering free filtered tap water to their patrons, including Tryp by Wyndham and some outlets under the Jumeirah Restaurant Group like The Hillhouse, The Duck Hook, The Noodle House, and Flow.

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