The recommendations that emerged from the 10th meeting of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority's (ADFCA) Scientific Committee, held November 29-30 at Rocco Forte Hotel, envisage ADFCA to eventually move towards adopting the FAO's 'Bio-Security' approach to integrate animal feed, animal health and welfare and plant health. However, the committee suggests the Authority continues with the current 'food chain' approach for the safety and suitability of food until the transition to the bio-security approach is initiated.
The Scientific Committee of ADFCA consist of an elite selection of experts and scholars from various official authorities around the world who meet at least once every year to provide advice on a range of topics that are of interest to the authority. The most recent Committee meeting has commended the achievements and accomplishments of the Authority over the past year, including the implementation of the recommendations that emerged from the 9th Scientific Committee meeting held last year.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, H.E. Rashed Al Shariqi, Director General of ADFCA, drew attention to ADFCA's efforts at leading change at the national and regional levels, including completion of drafting the policy document for food safety and suitability. He further highlighted the activities to enhance the regulatory model, where a set of legislation and voluntary codes have been issued.
The topics discussed at the meeting covered a range of issues including essentials for establishing National Food Safety Authority, risk based system for domestic market, Regulatory model of borderline food, HACCP based system for retail sector, insights on Small Scale Farming, Use of treated Waste Water in crop production, Integrated production and protection in greenhouses, Genetically modified crops & fodders and the Disposal of farm animal mortality and other biological wastes.
According to HE Dr. Mariam Hareb Sultan Al-Yousuf, Executive Director of Policy & Regulation Sector, ADFCA, the recommendations, which were subsequently ratified by the Authority's higher management, emphasized that ADFCA should advocate the adoption of the ï¿½Bio-securityï¿½ system in establishing a food safety agency at the UAE level, focusing on food safety policy and regulations at the federal level, while retaining compliance and enforcement functions at the level of the emirates.
"The committee also suggested ADFCA to continue with the ï¿½Whole-of-Food-Chainï¿½ approach to food control to achieve effective risk-based outcomes, as is the case on the international level and further continue its ongoing work on developing the risk-based inspection system for local market in the interim transitional phase, moving to a future risk management system underpinned by ranking food sectors and provision of risk management tools. The committee noted the transition to such a system would require more time in view of the complexity of the whole exercise," Dr. Al Yousuf explained.
Another important recommendation that emerged from the meeting was that ADFCA must continue its work on introducing regulations on food supplements, in coordination with the concerned health authorities, following the preparation of a Regulatory Impact Assessment and laying down rules that clearly define food from medicine and the list of ingredients, forms and quantities that can be added to foods.
The committee also recommended that ADFCA may extend the use of various existing food safety risk management tools in developing future food controls applicable to the retail food businesses, ranging from simple generic tools in low risk situations to detailed HACCP-based food control plans for complex, high risk food businesses.
The committee noted the importance of achieving an equitable and sustainable balance between smallholder farming and agribusiness in the development of food supplies and farming systems, where ADFCA can contribute to the development of guidelines for the use of treated wastewater in food and feed crop production, in coordination with the concerned government entity in the emirate, including water quality and treated wastewater applications.
In strengthening fish inspection control programs, it was recommended to ensure that all stages of the farm-to-fork continuum are taken into account, focusing on both pre- and post-harvest controls.
The committee also recommended ADFCA to recognize the importance of developing an integrated safety assurance program that encompasses GAP (good agriculural practices), GMP (good manufacturing practices), GHP (good hygienic practices) and SOP (standard operating procedures). The committee called upon ADFCA to consider the option of using genetically modified crops and fodders after the regulatory platform for the purpose is established while stressing the need to conduct case-by-case risk assessment to ensure food safety.
Furthermore, ADFCA, in continuing its efforts to control Brucellosis, must take into consideration the key success components including legislation and compensation, obtain further information on epidemiological diseases in the different susceptible species, identify most appropriate diagnostic and testing programs, and further develop farmers' awareness and cooperation in implementing control measures, the committee said.