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National Food Safety Authority to enforce cold chain regulations in Egypt

Body completes whitelist of establishments compliant with standards; shares educational programmes in the pipeline

| | Nov 12, 2018 | 3:29 pm
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Dubai, UAE, 12 November 2018: The National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) of Egypt has been tasked with stricter enforcement of cold chain regulations and standards to raise food safety and quality standards throughout the country, said Fatma Mahmoud, Food Inspector, NFSA, sharing the body’s recent initiatives, during its participation at the 12th Dubai International Food Safety Conference held from October 29 to 31, in Dubai. Mahmoud said that the body has recently completed a whitelist of establishments that successfully followed food safety rules and regulations. “We started official inspections in June 2017 with eight food establishments,” she said, “and now there are 69 in just a year and a half.”

NFSA, Mahmoud said, has a system for evaluating the companies to be included in the whitelist, which takes into consideration the cold stores and transport refrigeration vehicles. Even after being included in the whitelist, she added, there is a follow-up mechanism by way of announced and unannounced visits, to ensure the company maintains compliance with food safety standards. She added that the body is currently in a transition period, and the next phases will see more comprehensive and united regulations that will be made mandatory. “We are the only official government body authorised to inspect food,” she said. “Before that, there were 17 other government organisations to inspect food. Now they are under the umbrella of NFSA; we are a unified facility.” Mahmoud added that a key objective of NFSA is also to protect the quality of food being exported from Egypt.

Mahmoud said the body has recently completed inspections of school catering facilities to ensure compliance with food safety standards and the next phase will target companies exporting food products, such as frozen vegetables, chicken, milk, among others, followed by inspections of hotels and restaurants. “We want to reach even street vendors,” she said, “and we wanted to provide safe food, after being harvested, to the final consumer.”

Mariam Magdy Nazih, Food Inspector, NFSA, added that the body is also rolling out comprehensive e-learning courses that will tackle the basics of food safety, HACCP, and microbiology, as well as specific technical courses related to food safety. The lessons, she said, will be rolled out in two months, and can be accessed via a designated website linked to NFSA’s main homepage, www.nfsa.gov.eg. The first five courses, she said, will be free, while the following lessons can be obtained at low fees.

Mahmoud added that the body is committed to educating consumers and to bringing about change in the behaviour of workers, whose improper handling may lead to spoilage or damage of temperature-sensitive food. “[Improper handling] is a problem in Egypt,” she said. “You could see frozen chicken sold out of refrigerators under direct sunlight and people are fine with it. The main challenge for NFSA is to change the culture of the people.”

 

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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