Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has begun implementing 'Salamt Zadna,' a comprehensive food safety management system for small catering businesses (the independent restaurant sector) in the Emirate. It contains Safe Operating Practices (SOPs) and a Record Keeping Diary.
The implementation of the system will be phased in over 12 months following a successful pilot study involving 600 businesses in Abu Dhabi. Salamt Zadna delivered free of cost to all small catering businesses in the Emirate.
A number of Safe Operating Practices (SOPs) are to be implemented in the first phase, with others being implemented at a later stage.
HE Rashed Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General of ADFCA, said that 'Salamat Zadna' is a pioneering initiative to enhance the standards in food establishments in order to ensure the highest levels of food safety for the consumers. "We stress consistently that the relationship that binds us to food establishments is one of strategic partnership based on mutual cooperation without compromising in any way on their adherence to the rules and regulations that ADFCA has laid down," he explained.
Al Shariqi added: "In the Salamat Zadna Project, we continue our efforts to overcome the linguistic, educational, cultural, professional and technical challenges that face us while dealing with small food businesses. This is why we have innovated unconventional methods with a view to enhance the standards of compliance among food handlers."
Elaborating on the project during a press conference, HE Dr. Mariam Hareb Sultan Al Yousuf, Executive Director of Policy and Regulation at ADFCA, said Salamt Zadna would be a game changer for the sector. "Based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Salamt Zadna seeks to provide a simple method of maintaining safe practices and recording essential food safety information. Specially trained inspectors “Salamt Zadna Advisors’ will go to the businesses and teach them how to use the system and monitor progress," she disclosed.
The implementation of the system, which is extremely user-friendly, will use a partnership approach between the ADFCA and the businesses. The Salamt Zadna Advisors will mentor the businesses in how to implement the system. Staff will not have to leave work for the training and it will be imparted on the job so it remains cost effective for the businesses," Dr. Al Yousuf pointed out.
The ADFCA Executive Director revealed that ADFCA had decided to provide government support to the small catering businesses to help them improve their standards in view of their sheer size and diversity, their predominance across the emirate, their lack of technical expertise and the low literacy amongst food handlers. "Salamt Zadna – the result of rigorous research by a team of ADFCA staff who sought to reconcile international best practices to the local specificities - is a practical and innovative solution to enhance regulatory compliance in this sector," she stressed.
In most countries small catering businesses have the lowest standards of food safety. In view of the linguistic diversity, and subsequent inability to read or write in English or Arabic, among the managers and workers of food businesses in the UAE, Salamt Zadna was developed using mostly photographs with a minimum number of words. The majority of managers (69%) and most food handlers (73%) here speak Southern Asian languages such as Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam, with the majority speaking the last mentioned.
Salamt Zadna focuses on improving practice, initially in the following areas: cooking, chilled storage, cleaning high risk surfaces, washing fruit & vegetables, when to wash hands, how to wash hands, protective clothing, personal hygiene, handling ready-to-eat foods.