The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has emphasised that the safety of foodstuff, whether produced locally or imported, is among its highest priorities. In this context, the ministry said it has implemented an integrated approach to enhancing food safety and security in the UAE.
H.E. Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said, “We aim to boost the UAE’s position as a regional and global trade hub for food products through applying the highest standards of food safety to locally produced and imported foods. In addition to keeping food-borne diseases at bay, our food safety controls and measures boost the competitiveness of food products exported and re-exported by the UAE.”
H.E. Eng Saif Al Shara, Assistant Undersecretary for Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Food Diversity Sector, noted that a key pillar of food safety is the accreditation of slaughterhouses exporting meat and meat products to the UAE. “MOCCAE, in collaboration with its stakeholders, works relentlessly to boost the safety of imported foods, and safeguard consumers from harmful and adulterated foods through a host of regulations and processes covering all stages of the supply chain. These include implementing world-class food safety standards, issuing relevant laws, establishing intel exchange mechanisms with the concerned local and international entities, upgrading food safety control procedures, and raising public awareness about sound food-related practices,” he said.
He explained the accreditation process applicable to slaughterhouses that export meat and meat products to the UAE, aimed at ensuring they uphold the halal criteria for animal slaughter. MOCCAE has contracted trusted organisations overseas to inspect the meat production process at the facilities and submit technical reports to the National Food Safety Committee, comprising experts from the Ministry and local food control authorities from all emirates. After reviewing the reports, the Committee makes recommendations to MOCCAE regarding the accreditation of each slaughterhouse.
In case the reports issued by the overseas entities or by the border inspection team testify to the slaughterhouse’s failure to adhere to the health or halal requirements, the ministry immediately revokes its accreditation. H.E. Eng Al Shara emphasised that given the high demand for meat and meat products in the UAE, their safety for consumption is a priority for the ministry. In this context, the ministry verifies the documents accompanying inbound consignments shipped by accredited slaughterhouses, such as halal certificates, certificates of origin, and health certificates. It also conducts physical and laboratory tests on samples from shipments and takes action against those who trade in food products that are non-compliant with food safety regulations or shariah rules.
ZAD is an official online platform for the registration of foodstuffs produced in or imported to the UAE. It allows for tracking food products that are traded in the local market and provides statistical data to support their evaluation and control. As of August 2020, around 840,000 foodstuffs were registered through ZAD, including meat, dairy products, grains, and oil.
The National Rapid Alert System for Food ensures proper implementation of response measures when serious food risks are detected. The system identifies the mechanisms of managing food risk alerts as well as banning and lifting of bans on adulterated and misbranded food. It assigns roles and responsibilities, identifies types of food alerts, and defines the criteria for reporting food safety incidents, including rejection of foodstuffs at the port of entry and detection of adulterated food products in the market.