No compromise on food safety

With food and drink producers in the GCC increasingly reaching an international standard, it is vital that their efforts are supported by governments in the region. While Dubai Municipality is leading the way, there appears to be room for improvement, with some companies raising questions about the quality of food safety standards, such as HACCP.

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By  Roger Field Published  June 1, 2006

|~||~||~|Food and drink producers are becoming a staple part of the FMCG sector in the Middle East. From a relatively low base just a few years ago, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular are now home to some high profile food and beverage manufacturers of an international standard. Some are already exporting globally, while others have the necessary international standards required to export to almost any country, should they want to. Masafi, famous in the region for its bottled water is one such company. Having recently launched a range of premium juices, which are being processed and bottled at its plant in the UAE, Masafi is leveraging its brand value in a bid to make a play for a slice of the wider GCC juice market. Meanwhile, Halal meat producer Al Islami, has already signaled its intention to set up operations in Iran and Europe, based on a clear commitment to improve the reputation of Halal products globally. While many of these successful food and drink producers in the region are involved in different categories, they all hold one thing in common, and that is a desire to drive-up standards. As leaders in their fields, these companies have sought to improve their standards to an international level long before government legislation has deemed it necessary. Dubai Municipality has also been playing a key role, by encouraging food producers to achieve standards such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point), an internationally recognised food safety standard. The Municipality has set a deadline of June 30 for certain types of food producer to gain HACCP. The Municipality’s efforts to drive up food production standards should be applauded. Companies in Dubai are being encouraged to adopt international standards such as HACCP before their counterparts in other GCC countries. It is, however, worrying that a minority of companies involved with the implementation of HACCP appear to have abused their positions to make a quick buck (see "Setting the standard"). Thankfully, it appears that the Municipality is nipping the problem in the bud and taking the offenders to task. Either way, if the UAE, and the wider region is keen to see its food production industry really come of age, it is vital that companies can have faith in the standards they are seeking to achieve. Are you a food producer? Are you working towards any international standards such as HACCP? How have you found the programmes? The RNME team is interested to hear your story. Roger Field. Editor. E-mail: roger.field@itp.com||**||

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