Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Food Safety Conference ends with a call to establish federal system to deal with food-borne diseases


Ahmed Al Ali during his presentation

The sixth Dubai International Food Safety Conference concluded on Tuesday, with a call to establish a federal system that adopts the investigations regarding the food-borne diseases. It also called for developing the existing system in the Emirate of Dubai in terms of investigating diseases transmitted by food.

The two-day conference, organized by the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality with the support of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), the largest association of professionals in the field of food safety, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the UAE University, was held on the sidelines of the Gulfood Exhibition at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibitions Centre from 28 February to 1 March.

The conference was held this year under the slogan, "Food Safety in Emerging Economies – What Is Achievable, Reliable and Sustainable." The event witnessed 11 main sessions and 6 workshops during the conference and 4 workshops before the conference, in addition to 5 symposia, and a number of scientific and technical sessions.

The conference also called for an immediate start of implementing the Person In Charge system in food establishments. It suggested creating an integrated database for each food through the classification and registration in a unified electronic system. It also urged to disseminate information on food imported from various parts of the world including the food rejected.

The conference suggested transfer of strategic control point for imported food into the country of origin. It also called for the unification of GCC and UAE standards with international standards regarding food safety and approving all regulations relating to food safety within and outside the country.

The conference suggested developing the capacity of food and medical laboratories to support the investigations regarding diseases transmitted by food. It urged to develop effective programs to raise awareness on food safety for all segments of the society and also to ensure the qualification and training of food dealers.

Other recommendations include creating strategic partnerships with key countries that export food to the UAE with regard to food safety, exchange of information between regulators in the GCC countries with regard to food safety and creating a regional centre for risk assessment of food.

On the final day of the conference, Ahmed Abdurrahman Al Ali, Head of Food Inspection Section, Dubai Municipality presented a paper titled “Foodborne Diseases Investigation and Surveillance System in Dubai.” The final day witnessed three scientific symposia and three workshops. The speakers in the conference were honoured and certificates were distributed to the participants at the end of the event.

The keynote speakers in the conference included food safety specialists and experts such as Bill Marler, who is one of the noted lawyers in cases involving food safety, Dr. Karen Hulebak, Chairman of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Dr. Lee Ann-Jaykus President, IAFP, David Tharp, Executive Director of IAFP, Dr. Ian Williams, Acting Chief, Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, CDC, USA, Dr. Ezeddine Boutrif, Former Director, Food Safety and Quality Division, FAO, Dr. V. Prakash, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, India, and Dr. Dennis J. Russell, Professor, American University of Sharjah.

A large number of professionals interested in developing and implementing food safety programs in various parts of the world participated in the conference. The conference was attended by more than 1,500 participants. 

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