Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) has hosted the first meeting of the permanent team , drawn from the Food Safety Committee for the GCC States. The team is entrusted with the task of developing a GCC rapid alert system for food and with the preparation of requirements in order to automate the system.
Her Excellency Dr. Mariam Harib Al Yousuf, Executive Director of Policy and Regulation sector at ADFCA, chaired the meeting, in the presence of representatives from the General Secretariat of the GCC and from the six member states � the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
The meeting discussed the requirements of the proposed GCC rapid alert system for food, such as procedures, the types of alerts to be exchanged, the required guidelines for the system and roles and responsibilities for each of the central, national and provincial focal points that wil be developed into an online program to exchange of food safety alerts.
A presentation made by the UAE elaborated on the main requirements of the rapid alert system. The team reviewed the bylaw for the system suggested by Saudi Arabia and listened to the views of Qatar on the matter. A detailed action plan to develop the system, mooted by the UAE, was also discussed and adapted .
Those who attended opined that the main requirements for the system - such as a reliable legislative basis, determination of the scope and mechanism of work, the areas in which to issue alerts and others - would have to be fulfilled. It was stressed that operationalizing the automated system of the currently available rapid alert system was of importance, up until the setting up of the GCC system requirement .
Dr. Mariam Al Yousuf stated in a statement on the sidelines of the meeting that the main objectives of the rapid alert system were the expeditious exchange of information to preempt the entry into the market of food items suspected to pose a risk to the consumers' health and to take the necessary action in a rapid and coordinated manner for purposes of protecting the consumer through recall or withdrawal of the effected products from the markets. The system also aims to unifying the procedures across the GCC states, in addition to joint the efforts to save resources time, and avoid redundancy eventually resulting in enhanced food safety across the GCC countries.