Fake food news: Abu Dhabi authority warns false food safety rumours likely to spike during Ramadan
The intent, according to the government unit, is to harm and damage the reputation of the goods and companies in question.
“The information circulated on social media are not based on scientific evidence, and some of these rumours were fabricated purely for competitive reasons. Other rumours were also created due to the result of misinterpretation, and the spread of news without any prior knowledge of where the original data came from,” said the ADFSA.
Between 2013 and 2018, it had responded to 49 false food safety rumours circulating on social media sites, including included claims about cancerous Nutella, plastic rice, nitrogen in ice cream and worms in Indomie noodles, according to local media Gulf News.
“Spreading food rumours is an unfair practice used by some competitors in the market. Some businesses rely on fake news to harm its competitors’ products, and this in turn causes serious damage to manufacturers and their suppliers, which ultimately harms the national economy,” it said.
It added that it would keep a lookout on social media sites for false information related to food safety and respond to the rumours proactively to minimise the damages that they bring.
Oreo halal or haram?
Oreo biscuits allegedly containing alcohol recently caused shockwaves on UAE’s social media.
Dubai Municipality had since rejected the claims, however it appears the situation stemmed from a labelling error.
On its official Instagram page, it said that it “asserts that the products in the local markets is alcohol free, but there was a mistake translating the food card into Arabic.”
It explained that the word “chocolate liquor”, which means cocoa paste, was wrongly translated into alcohol.
A Dubai Municipality official also told local media Khaleej Times that all Oreo biscuits distributed in the UAE were manufactured in Bahrain.
"Therefore, the question of not being Halal-compliant does not arise. There was a confusion over a tweet from some users who have tagged an Oreo (Mondelez) account in another country.
"We have investigated the tweet; it has nothing to do with the Middle East supply and demand chain of the biscuit," the official said.
Another case involved a canned tuna brand Angelmo. It was rumoured to be made from synthetic fibres and could lead to deadly health problems.
To which, the Dubai Municipality said that that particular brand of tuna was not registered with the Food Safety Department and was not sold in local markets.
It added that it had sampled 166 canned tunas from different brands available in the market and confirmed that they were safe for consumption.