The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) welcomed over 450 stakeholders from the Ministry of Environment & Water, Dubai Municipality, Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority , Fujairah, chefs and managers from the catering industry and many food safety trainers, auditors and consultants. The event was convened to discuss an ambitious initiative to assist caterers implement modern food safety management, based on a system known as HACCP, in their businesses.
Welcoming the delegates, His Excellency Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General of ADFCA said that the Authority considered the cooperation between the private sector and the public sector vital for a robust food safety system. ï¿½This project is a pioneering initiative to guarantee food safety across the food chain. These measures are part of our efforts to realize the vision of the Government of Abu Dhabi, which lays a good deal of emphasis on a free economy and a safe societyï¿½, he pointed out.
Dr. Mariam Harib Al Yousef, Executive Director, Policy & Regulation, stressed that ADFCA is committed to following a regulatory approach that is practical, risk based and harmonized across the whole food chain. The vision is reflected in food safety policies which include the implementation of food safety management systems, a change of approach in the long term from traditional inspection to verification audits and enhancing consumer awareness. Dr Mariam explained that whilst high management standards are already in place in many of the large companies it is a huge task for ADFCA to bring modern systems into even the smallest restaurant. ï¿½In line with ADFCA Stakeholder Engagement Plan, industry chefs and managers and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the project, to share ideas and best practice. Working in partnership will ensure practical, cost effective solutions are developed. This will enable all businesses to comply with international standards, meet regulatory requirements and have confidence that food served in the Emirate is always safe.ï¿½
The initiative has being benchmarked against successful models of food safety management developed in the UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. However, the UAE faces additional challenges given its multi-cultural community and its many food handlers that are not able to write or read in their own language. In addition, research by ADFCA has found that in over 40% of small restaurants there is no one who can speak Arabic or English ï¿½ with the person in charge usually speaking Malayalam, Bengali, Urdu or Hindi. This means that for these businesses, a new approach must be found and ADFCA is already working to develop a system based on pictures rather than words.
The project involves enabling each business to follow ï¿½safe practicesï¿½ for cooking, chilling, cleaning and avoid cross contamination, and also using a simple Food Safety Diary to record how these are managed on a daily basis. ADFCA is already working with industry partners from small restaurants, labor camps, schools, hospitals, contract caterers, hotels and traditional kitchens. For each of these groups a relevant, practical, easy to use method will be developed.
Two industry representatives, already working with ADFCA, presented some of their experiences to-date hoping to inspire other chefs to volunteer to help ADFCA develop practical solutions for the very small businesses. This was followed by a wide ranging Question & Answer session where delegates were encouraged to express their opinions and seek clarification of the topics presented.The day was closed by Dr Mariam Al Yousef who thanked the participants for their attendance and positive feedback received throughout the day. She also invited all stakeholders to work closely with ADFCA in the future to make the project a success for Abu Dhabi.