Dubai Launches Region’s First Comprehensive Food Safety Code

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A happy Chef with his masterpiece during the recent Gulfood 2013 event. Dubai has announced a comprehensive world-class food safety system -- on par with International food safety standards to ensure safe food for residents and millions of visitors to the Emirate each year. Photo-Arabian Gazette
A happy Chef with his masterpiece during the recent Gulfood 2013 event. Dubai has announced a comprehensive world-class food safety system — on par with International food safety standards to ensure safe food for residents and millions of visitors to the Emirate each year. Photo-Arabian Gazette

Dubai Municipality announced on Monday that it will be releasing a new Food Code, making Dubai the first to produce such an industry-wide guideline in the region.

According to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Code is a model that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal support for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry, including restaurants, grocery stores and institutions such as nursing homes. Local, state, tribal, and federal regulators use the FDA Food Code as a model to develop or update their own food safety rules and to be consistent with national food regulatory policy.

The Food Code to be implemented in Dubai will use similar codes issued in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Hong Kong as key reference points. Since 2005, the FDA has decided to revise the Codes every four years, the current version of the FDA Food Code being released in 2009. In accordance with the international standards, the Food Code in Dubai will receive supplemental revisions on an ‘as necessary’ basis.

On the occasion of the release, Khalid Shareef, Director of the Food Control Department at Dubai Municipality, explained,

“Dubai’s vision is to establish a world-class food safety system that helps provide safe food to the residents and the several millions that visit the Emirate each year. In addition, we would like the system to ensure safe production and distribution of food and also its safe import and export.

We would like the system to be so comprehensive and appealing that others are encouraged to use it as a model. Our vision will become a reality only when the government, food industry, service providers, educational and research organisations and the consumers collectively commit to work together and apply sound principles of food safety based on science and research.

The Municipality has already begun the process by promoting a positive food safety culture among food establishments in the Emirate, by urging the managements to be responsible and accountable through proprietary Person In-Charge (PIC) programme introduced in 2010.

“Through the Food Code, we are now building on the foundations laid by the PIC and other regulatory programmes, which arm them with the necessary knowledge about the systems and processes needed to ensure an effective food safety culture.”

As observed internationally, the basic objectives of the Food Code in Dubai include:

  • Protection of the citizens of the country from bodily harm that could arise from consuming contaminated food.
  • Provide various entities a uniform standard and a final authority regarding questionable practices in the preparation or sales of food.

Asia Abdul Wahab Murad, Head of Planning & Development at the DM food control department added,

“Food Code is a comprehensive document that lists the requirements that food establishments have to follow being produced as a result of an integrated approach the civic body developed to ensure food safety from the place of primary production up to the point of consumption.”

The comprehensive Food Code in Dubai will be applied in various phases of the food chain, including import, export, production, processing, preparation, handling and serving. The attempt bears much importance owing to the increased number of visitors to Dubai each year along with the considerable food imports within the state.  In 2012 alone, more than 8 million tons of food items were imported to Dubai from some 180 foreign countries.

According to Basheer Hassan Yousuf, Food safety expert at Dubai Municipality food control department,

“Food Code is designed to assist the Person In-Charge (PICs) at food establishments to understand their obligations and to carry out operations as per the requirement.

A notable point regarding the code is that, it not only talks about laws but explaining how and why. When the code says about a certain temperature level to keep on food, why and how is detailed just after, in simple language, with the intention of making concerned persons full aware of what they do.

It is developed also to help the food industry and the law-enforcement officers understand the ways and means to meet the standards and objectives mentioned in the GCC, Federal and Local regulations.”

Dubai has more than 13,000 food establishments including 3,000 restaurants and 480 hotels, all of which serve more than one million customers each day.

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