Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Global experts to converge at 6th Dubai International Food Safety Conference




Dubai Municipality, which is hosting the sixth Dubai International Food Safety Conference from the 28th of February to the 1st of March 2011, has given final touches for the themes and work papers of the event.
Addressing a press conference at Murooj Rotana Hotel, Khalid Mohammed Shareef, Director of Food Control Department at the Municipality said the conference will provide world-class insights on food safety and help professionals in the food industry sharpen their skills.
"The conference will deliver an array of programs that includes workshops, symposia, technical sessions and poster presentations that will feature more than 100 presenters," he said, adding that more than 1,200 people had attended the event in 2010 and with each year, the participation is getting bigger and better.
"Dubai is emerging as the main hub of international food trade and a paradise for food lovers. There are more than 13,500 food establishments in Dubai that are involved in importing, exporting, processing, preparing or selling of about 6 million tonnes of food that comes from more than 150 different countries," said Shareef.
"People from more than 200 countries visit or work in Dubai and there is food to satisfy the taste of everyone which makes Dubai a true ‘Global Food Village’. This love for food also qualifies the city as an ideal location for a global food safety conference," he said. Held alongside another popular food event, the Gulfood exhibition, the conference is a meeting point of food safety professionals from different countries and cultures and a forum to address emerging food safety issues important to all countries in the region. Shareef said the conference has also helped to improve international and regional cooperation in promoting food safety and has facilitated exchange of knowledge and experience across the region by identifying and promoting good practices.
"Foodborne illnesses have become a major public health concern in recent years. Several outbreaks and incidents related to food safety have shaken the public and lowered consumer confidence in all regions of the world. Safe food is a responsibility of all those involved in food production till consumption starting in the farm until the fork and this complex chain includes farmers, manufacturers, scientists, regulators and the consumers," he said.
"Before it reaches the consumers, food travels several thousands of miles and sometimes passes through several countries that have varying degree of control measures to ensure safety of food.  Food control systems in some of these countries are not always as well organized and developed as in the industrialized countries and  to enhance the safety of global food supply, we need to look at harmonizing standards, sharing scientific data and promote collaboration between different governments, especially between the developed world and the developing world," said Shareef. 
He said this year’s conference is centred on the theme, "Food Safety in the Emerging Economies," and the meeting will explore a variety of issues that affect food safety challenges faced by the countries that are emerging as mass producing economies. 
Presentations and discussions during the conference will also examine the relationship between regulatory agencies and the food industry in reducing risks associated with the food supply including how to manage food safety consistently in the global marketplace.
The opening session will feature some top speakers including Dr. Karen Hulebak, Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, who will provide the Codex perspective of food safety and global trade in emerging economies and the importance of having common standards across the globe that ensures protection to all. 
Chosen speakers will bring insights about the problems and success stories from countries such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico. Dr. V Prakash who heads the Central Food Technology Research Institute in India will talk about food safety in India and the world’s most popular food lawyer, Bill Marler will talk about the roles and responsibilities of food industry in ensuring food safety.
The plenary session will be followed by break out sessions with symposia on food microbiology and emerging trends and developments in the field of food safety. The food microbiology session will cover several presentations that will cover a wide range of issues such as emerging microbial pathogens and their control, microbiological sampling, and the importance of cleaning.
A parallel session will cover the emerging trends and technological advancements in food safety. This session will cover topics such as Allergen management, safety of Nano technology and the use of modern technology for testing food. Industry experts from MARS, Kraft Foods, Nestle and National Food Product Company (NFPC) will provide the industry perspective of food safety.
Sessions on 1st March will bring in national and international perspectives about food safety management. Sheikha Dr. Rashaa Al Qassimi, Assistant Director General of Health, Environment & Quality Affairs at Sharjah Municipality will talk about the new food safety initiative in Sharjah.
For the first time, a speaker from US Food and Drug Administration will be present in the conference. Kevin Smith, the Director of Retail at US FDA will talk about the food safety programs for the retail sector.  The morning session will also include several case studies regarding food control programs in developing countries.
Dubai Municipality is organising a joint symposium with US Centre for Disease Control and WHO on foodborne diseases investigation and disease surveillance. This session aims to enhance foodborne disease identification and management at both national and regional level. Dubai Municipality and Dubai Health Authority are working on a joint project to detect foodborne diseases and will be working together in the future to investigate, control and manage foodborne diseases in the Emirate. The new program will require all hospitals to report food related illnesses within a short time to the DHA. Investigations will be conducted when necessary, especially when the sickness involves higher number of people.