Compliance with old and new regulations is an important issue that manufacturers must face, given the vital role that cold chain plays in ensuring food safety. Many manufacturers and suppliers within the industry, however, often find it difficult to keep up with the stringent rules that are applied across various emirates they are operating in.
Abdulla Abdulrazaq Al Tamimi, Head of Public Health, Municipality and Planning Department, Ajman, though, believes that the need to comply with new and existing regulations should not be perceived as a bottleneck but rather as an opportunity to strengthen communication channels between the public and private sectors and enhance the standards within the industry. He shared his insight from his experience in promoting the Ajman Public Health Programme (APHP), which was launched in 2014 and includes HACCP certification and regulations pertaining to food safety.
“I believe the private sector is a shell body,” said Al Tamimi. “Our development is going parallel with the expansion of the private sector. I need them to believe in the programme, to see that the government is keen to see them grow and provide better service and products to society.”
Currently, the programme is only compulsory for certain categories. The compulsory sector includes the industrial food sector, which has to adhere to the HACCP requirements. Catering companies belong to the sector. While operating in Ajman, they need to undergo training courses and certification process. The non-compulsory sector includes food retailers, groceries, supermarkets and cafeterias.
Al Tamimi admitted that the programme faced hurdles during the introduction of the regulations, adding that resistance is the nature of people and nothing will ever be embraced wholeheartedly immediately. However, the results that come out of compliance serve as encouragement, which, in fact, attracts other companies, he said.
“It happens like networking,” he said. “Some people told us they heard about the APHP, and even though they are part of the non-compulsory category they wanted to participate. We dedicated one conference hall in our building premises to APHP, whether for training or examinations.”
Al Tamimi expressed optimism the programme would succeed, believing it would help cultivate socially conscious practices. “They see the government apply regulations, and they think it’s hard to fulfil and that it contains a lot of requirements they cannot perform,” he said. “But a lot of private companies I’m dealing with have a different thinking, and they support the programme, because they feel for it and they see where this programme is taking them. They see the benefit. One such benefit is that you can sense people starting to be more serious and curious on how to provide better service. When you give them the responsibility, they feel like they have a serious mission to society. They begin to treat it as part of their social responsibility, providing precautions in their service by feeding and taking care of people.”