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‘A multi-faceted approach to food safety’

Noor Abdelhalim Fadl Nasir, Food Permits and Control Officer, Dubai Municipality, speaks with Climate Control Middle East on how rules and regulations are changing the culture of food safety, the importance of promoting greater awareness among consumers on their role in the food chain and how technology is becoming a valuable platform for knowledge sharing. Excerpts from the interview with Hannah Jo Uy…

| | May 17, 2018 | 9:20 am
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Noor Abdelhalim Fadl Nasir

Could you briefly speak on your strategy within your role to underpin the importance of food safety among multiple stakeholders?

It’s about raising awareness – not just on the industry and the food establishments, because we do have rules and regulations set up for them to ensure food safety of consumers, but it’s also about raising awareness among consumers themselves. Consumers need to be more aware of how to keep themselves and their family safe, whether this means eating at home, going out or ordering food from delivery services. I think eating out in Dubai is such a big part of our lives, so ensuring that people understand what they should be paying attention to when going out to restaurants or when ordering is very important, so everyone is aware of their role in the food chain. Rules and regulations are changing the culture of food safety. We don’t want to take food safety for granted, we want [consumers] to take a proactive [approach]. I think an aware consumer is always a safe consumer.

So that’s why we’re pushing for this idea on the basic tips you should know when you’re going out to eat. It’s about understanding that there are some things that you, as a consumer, shouldn’t accept. This is really vital because we are talking about the safety of people at the end of the day.

Do you feel that initiatives such as the UAE Food Bank help move the dial in terms of promoting greater consciousness among the people with regard to food safety and food waste?
As you said, initiatives like the UAE Food Bank ensure that there is a decrease in food waste or that excess food is diverted to people who are more in need. It’s also a matter of ensuring that the message reaches the industry, food establishments and consumers, in such a way that they have easy access to it, through visual and print media.

Every year, we have the Dubai International Food Safety Conference (DIFSC), which highlights the latest advancements in technology and knowledge with regard to food security and safety. People can really gain a more holistic view of how things are moving in the food safety area; it’s not just aimed at the food industry. We also have the World Food Day, where we highlight the importance of food safety.

Food waste is something we are working on getting rid of and eliminating, but it is also a matter of highlighting the importance of staying safe with the food that you eat.

During Ramadan we try to have events as well, because as you know food is such a huge part of that month, so ensuring that we are sending the right message across helps consumers understand they should not just decrease the amount of food waste but also to be safe when preparing food and when going out to eat. Nutrition is also an important part during that month; you’re restricted to a set number of meals during the day and you really need to focus on what you’re eating. I think it’s a multi-faceted way of approaching food safety.

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