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Waterfront Market advocates collaborative cold chain for food safety

Combined investment in manpower and facilities needed to address different touchpoints, stakeholders say

| | Aug 15, 2018 | 11:16 am
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Dubai, UAE, 15 August 2018: A strict cold chain is vital to ensuring food safety, and this holds especially true for the Waterfront Market in Deira, being a hub of fresh food sourced from across the world. To provide an example of the level of activities in the market, Ali Al Hammadi, Operations Supervisor, Waterfront Market, spoke about the seafood auction. “The trucks that bring the fish come around 9 PM in the evening from the airport, from Oman, Yemen, Pakistan and India. Locally, we also get products from Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and other [emirates],” he said. “We supply to around 4,000 hotels and restaurants and sell about 200 tonnes of seafood daily, only 30% goes to the market –  the rest are distributed in the restaurants and in the hospitality sector.”

Waterfront Market, Deira

With the amount of food being received, stored and sold, the management, represented by Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director, Retail, Residential and Commercial, Ithra Dubai, is advocating a collaborative approach to promote best practice. “The overriding factor is food safety,” Gyde stressed. “We don’t buy or sell fish, we just set up a facility for traders.” As such, Gyde said, the facility is set up in a way to ensure that people coming in to sell and buy temperature-sensitive produce follow best practice. “At the end of the day, they don’t say truck or vendor A, B or C [provided subpar food], they say it was Waterfront,” he said. “We represent Dubai, so we want to put our best foot forward – we take it very seriously.” Gyde added this is especially crucial with the market facilitating exchange of a diverse spectrum of products, ranging from lobsters and crabs from Canada to fruits and vegetables from South America.

Abdul Rashid, Group CEO, Pulseberry Consulting, elaborated on the protocols being implemented and the company’s role in sharing knowledge and expertise in cold chain to operators on the ground. For monitoring temperature of the incoming vehicles, Rashid said that there has been an uptake in digital monitoring systems owing to management encouraging vendors to invest in the technology. “We cannot mandate [the use of digital monitoring] but for the past 5-6 months we have been reinforcing the need to have effective monitoring aside from the drivers of the companies,” he said, “so that is increasing at the moment, [because] it helps their operation as well. You invest in digital monitoring, you have a better quality product, which translates to profitability.”

That being said, Rashid said the management implements its own rigorous testing standards, especially if there is any doubt about the authenticity of both digital and manual temperature excursions. “We look at excessive ice crystallisation on the surface,” he said, “so you can detect temperature fluctuations, if it’s been turned off and then been turned on or if it has been defrosted.”

Rashid added that the knowledge exchange is not only confined to properly managing temperature monitoring mechanisms, but in other aspects as well – to ensure comfort of both vendors and the customers – and that the facility maintains its quality standards. “In the fish [section of the] market, there were strong smells,” he said, to provide an example. “We had to work with the facilities management team to ensure that fresh air was coming in and to increase the ventilation rates to maintain it.” A customised approach helps in addressing problems unique to a specialised facility, Rashid added. “This is how I describe it,” he explained. “Engineers, they might see ventilation systems just as mechanical units – they don’t see the impact it has on food safety. We have to ensure they understand the impact of the product itself and the environment displaying products.” This, Rashid stressed, makes a case for an integrated approach.

Hammadi pointed to the training process undertaken, especially during the market’s shift to the new facility, requiring management to train 700-800 workers for several sessions, covering hygiene, proper transportation and handling of products, from the refrigerated vehicles to the cold stores. Rashid added, while facilitating the training, it was important to emphasise temperature controls, interacting with the people and communicating best practice, taking into account the multi-cultural workforce. Gyde added that the cold chain expertise provided by Pulseberry and implementation of operations on the ground is also supported by investment in facilities and equipment, pointing to the role that the facility’s BMS plays in optimising cold chain monitoring and overall operations.

 

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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