Last Updated: Tue Jun 26, 2012 13:22 pm (KSA) 10:22 am (GMT)

Chocolate-filled syringes cause alarm in Dubai

Concerned consumers in Dubai were alarmed when an image of medical syringes filled with the popular chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella, was circulating in the social media. (Courtesy Dubai Municipality)
Concerned consumers in Dubai were alarmed when an image of medical syringes filled with the popular chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella, was circulating in the social media. (Courtesy Dubai Municipality)

The story of medical syringes filled with chocolate allegedly being available in the United Arab Emirates has forced Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Department to issue a warning on Monday.

An image of syringes filled with a chocolate spread by Nutella first surfaced on social media sites recently and prompted users to express concerns to the Dubai Municipality hotline.

“The Ministry of Health confirmed that the medical needles are not clean or sanitized and might be used in hospitals to take blood or inject medicine,” Khalid Sherif, Director of Food Control Department said in a press release.

“We strongly advise the public to purchase food products from authorized establishments only as they get approval for all food items, apart from to the periodical check up by the civic body,” he added.

However, there seems to be some ambiguity as to where this product is being sold in the market, with Nutella denying creating this product.

“We are certain that this product has never been on the shelves in Dubai,” Shaima al-Tenaiji, principal food studies and surveys officer at the food control department of Dubai Municipality, told The National newspaper. “As far as we know, it is being delivered from person to person.”

The municipality had issued a warning because it did not yet know for sure how the syringes were being produced and handled, or who was behind it.

“This is a major health risk; should any of those needles accidentally prick the person packaging them it could lead to the spread of infectious diseases as serious as HIV,” Tenajiji added.

Meanwhile, the regional distributor for Nutella, Arabian Oasis, said the company had no knowledge of the syringes before Sunday.

“I only found out about this today through an email,” Sherin el-Sabaie, the general manager of Arabian Oasis, told The National.

“I forwarded the information to the main company headquarters in Italy and I’m awaiting their response. We are only the distributor and have the only officially packaged product of Nutella.”

Sabaie said he was shocked to learn such a dangerous product might be on sale and is investigating who is behind its creation and distribution.

“This could negatively affect our product image and Nutella is one of our top-selling products,” he said.

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