Dubai Municipality opens 12th Dubai International Food Safety Conference

Dubai Municipality opens 12th Dubai International Food Safety Conference
​Dubai Municipality on Monday opened the 12th Dubai International Food Safety Conference (DIFSC), which is being held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center from 29 to 31 October 2018 under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Finance Minister and Chairman of Dubai Municipality. 

The opening ceremony was attended by Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Food Security, Dawood Al Hajiri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, and representatives of International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), the US-based National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and a number of officials from various regulatory bodies in the country.

The conference was opened with a welcoming speech delivered by the Minister of State for Food Security, as the ministry is one of the biggest supporters of the event, which aims to unite the efforts of the country towards the provision of healthy food of high quality.

Al Muhairi said the conference, which has become a global platform, bringing together decision makers and stakeholders in one of the most important issues of today, food security. 

“The conference will address the role of legislations in supporting food safety and security. There will also be an exchange of views and ideas on mechanisms to strengthen sustainable food security legislation through enhanced international cooperation,” she pointed out.

Speaking at the conference, Al Hajiri said the conference is organized by Dubai Municipality under the theme “Global food regulatory trends,” due to the role of food legislation in unifying regulatory visions worldwide and witnessing unprecedented trade in food. This theme affirms the UAE's leadership in the field of food safety and the need to harmonize food legislation at all levels at the local, regional and international levels to contribute to ensuring the smooth flow of inter-trade between the countries of the world. The harmonization of food legislation is an important factor that reduces food waste, which contributes in enhancing food security, which the state attaches paramount importance.” 

Al Hajiri pointed out that the conference carries great significance for Dubai, especially when the Emirate is preparing for the launch of Expo 2020, which represents a milestone in the march of the Emirate. “Food safety is one of the factors behind the success of this important international exhibition in Dubai, which imports more than 10 million tons of food annually. More than 700,000 food products are traded in a detailed database that is the first in the world. Dubai has more than 17,000 food outlets and imports more than 10 million tons of food annually and employs more than 100,000 food traders. It is important to channelize some efforts during the conference to provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing those concerned with food safety and quality in Dubai,” he said. 

Al Hajiri said DIFSC is the second largest food safety conference in the world, which was attended by more than 20,000 participants over 11 sessions, that witnessed 500 lectures, workshops and specialized seminars, as well as many other events such as food safety exhibitions, consultations, training, devices and solutions related to the safety and quality of food. 

“This year's session focuses on the current challenges of combating food fraud and its detection methods. In July 2017, the Codex Committee directed that the focus be on preventing and not detecting food fraud. This year’s conference will also discuss ways to control foodborne diseases in the UAE and prepare for the use of genomic sequencing and cytology techniques in the region in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control in the United States (CDC). The conference will also be a good opportunity to exchange views and experiences among food safety professionals and who represent a distinguished elite from all countries of the world,” he said.

Al Hajiri said the conference is the result of the cooperation of the federal, local, regional and international bodies working in this vital field such as the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Gulf Standards Organization, the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology, the Ministry of Health, the UAE University, the Dubai Health Authority, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, Sharjah Municipality and others. Representatives of regulators from the European Union, America, Canada and Australia are participating in this conference on behalf of the international bodies, which also include IAFP and specialists from NEHA, he said.

Al Hajiri expressed thanks to the sponsors and the Organizing Committee which prepared special programs and events that take into consideration that it is a torchbearer in the path of food safety.

During the opening ceremony, a film on the DIFC was also shown as a major regional and international event for food safety and quality. The conference is of particular importance to the Emirate of Dubai, which is considered the most important food hub in the region, adding great burdens to the safety regulatory bodies in Dubai. The film also briefed the audience about the challenges facing the Emirate of Dubai and the vision of the Municipality to develop creative and innovative solutions.

On the sidelines of the conference, Al Hajiri also launched a Mobile Food Testing Laboratory in the presence of Al Muhairi and a number of officials. The mobile laboratory features the transformation of Dubai Central Laboratory to smart services to comply with the directives of the Government of Dubai. This laboratory can be used to carry out chemical tests of ready-to-eat samples at various event sites. It will be used for the first time at the Global Village site for six months to examine microbial samples. The uniqueness of the mobile lab is that it needs only two working days to deliver the results of the examination, while the old examination needed five working days. The mobile laboratory is an initiative in preparation for Expo 2020, to be located at the event sites to provide tests with the possibility of the addition of drinking water tests and chemical tests in food. 

It is worth mentioning that the Emirate of Dubai attracts more than 15 million tourists a year. It is increasing moment by moment as Dubai is approaching the most important event: Expo 2020, which will be connecting minds and cultures. Dubai is an international trade hub, through which more than 90% of the country's imports pass by. The city has 17,000 food establishments that specialize in providing diverse foods of a variety of cultures worldwide. With a 7% annual increase in food trade and processing, it requires the food to pass through many points of production, processing and preparation before reaching the consumer. Hence, the importance of protecting these foods throughout these processes should be recognized to ensure consumer safety. 

It should be noted that this event had attracted many participants from around the world, as well as hundreds of experts and specialists who presented many papers and researches in various food safety specialties.