Food safety top priority

Dubai Municipality heightens awareness of food safety, amid global fears over bird flu, foot and mouth and genetically modified foods

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By  Laura Barnes Published  March 1, 2006

Dubai Municipality hosted a number of food safety conferences last month in reaction to the growing concern for health and safety issues in the emirates. The conferences, which explored food traceability and food safety systems in the dairy industry, among other topics, was organised by the Public Health Department of Dubai Municipality. “There are a lot of challenges in the food safety industry at the moment and it is important that companies are aware of the problems. But it is also important that the industry understands regional and international laws on food safety as well,” said Khalid Al Awadi, assistant director, Public Health Department and head of food control section, Dubai Municipality. The three-day conference heard from a number of speakers across the industry, including Ian Jenson, from food safety and strategic science, Meat and Livestock Australia, talking about food safety systems in the meat industry, and Dr Vincent Hegarty, dean of the College of Food and Agriculture, UAE University, discussing food safety challenges in the Middle East. “The industry is experiencing a lot of issues that need to be addressed, like avian flu, foot and mouth disease and genetically modified foods. So it is important that we are all aware of the issues and the effect they will have on the Middle East,” added Al Awadi. Additionally, with the UAE importing between 70-80% of its food, worth US $12 billion in 2004, the food industry needs to be more aware of international regulations, labelling and food certification systems. “As well as importing a lot of food items, the UAE is also a huge re-exporter, and because of this we need to be aware of international laws as well as regulations of different countries,” warned Al Awadi. The conference — which heard from speakers from Australia, Saudi Arabia and Canada — is expected to be held again next year with more participants and discussion topics.

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