Popular fast-food chain McDonald's has stirred up controversy in Saudi Arabia, after a video was posted on YouTube allegedly showing vegetables being washed in an automatic washing machine. The location of the actual McDonald's branch involved remains a mystery, although restaurants are scattered throughout the Kingdom, even in the holiest city of Mecca.
According to a recent statement from the chain, McDonald's says the video is fake, as reported on Digital Journal
reported it was not known if the washing machine involved was used for other purposes. Local Arabic newspapers have called for an investigation to be launched. Sharq Arabic language daily said "A famous restaurant is washing and drying its lettuce and other vegetables in a washing machine….where are the authorities…they should see this video and take action immediately."
According to McDonald's
in Saudi Arabia "Our customers' health and well-being is McDonald's top priority, as proven by our commitment to the highest standards of quality and hygiene." All products used are confirmed as Halal and inspected by authorities at the port of entry. However, what happens to the products once they reach the kitchen is now raising concerns.
Saudi authorities have increased the number of food inspections in an effort to stamp out unhygienic kitchen practices. In July 2011 Arab News
reported that in Riyadh alone 50 fast food outlets had been closed down. According to the local health authority, food inspectors "check the manner the foods are being prepared in the outlet but also ensure that the food is prepared by people with health certificates from the municipality. We are also focusing on personal hygiene."