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Food safety gets boost thanks to new federal portal

Unified registration for food products on the ZAD system to help combat illegal trade, reduce food wastage and speed up recall of banned items

Image Credit: Dubai Municipality
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality launches ZAD at Dubai Municipality stand at Gulfood 2018.
Gulf News

Dubai: Trading of safe food products in the UAE will get a boost with the authorities launching a federal online system for registering all food items being sold in the country.

The new system will prevent illegal food trade, cut time and money spent for food import, reduce food wastage due to rejection at ports and unify and speed up recall of banned food items across the emirates, food safety experts said.

The online system named ZAD was unveiled at the Gulfood 2018 exhibition by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Municipality, on Sunday.

The web portal of ZAD, an initiative of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in association with Dubai Municipality, was launched at the municipality’s stand at Gulfood.

Khalid Mohammad Sharif Al Awadi, assistant director general of Dubai Municipality for Environment, Health and Safety Sector, told Gulf News that the municipality has integrated its e-system Food Import and Re-export System (FIRS) with ZAD to expand the system at a federal level. “So, more than 600,000 food items are already registered with ZAD now.”

He said the ministry is expected to soon make an announcement about making it mandatory to register all food products coming into all the emirates on the ZAD portal.

“All food items being imported to the UAE for selling here or for re-exporting will have to be registered with this system. Food products produced locally should also be registered.”

With the federal level registration, Eman Al Bastaki, director of Food Safety Department at Dubai Municipality, said food products will no longer have to be registered separately in different emirates.

“Food control authorities in each emirate will accept the applications for registration through the system. Once any of the food control body approves the products, they will be registered on the federal system under different categories. Trading companies will not have to seek registration and clearance from different emirates anymore.”

Lab tests also will not have to be repeated in separate emirates.

Officials said the unified federal system will help significantly boost billions worth food trade in the UAE.

“It will help cut the time for inter-emirate transfer of food shipments from 15 days to one day,” said Ahmad Mohammad Khalifa, senior Food Trade Hygiene Specialist.

Regulatory boost

Officials said the system will help fight illegal trade of food as only products registered with the portal will be allowed in the market.

“The list of banned food items will be issued through the federal system. It will no longer be sent to different municipalities manually, which used to result in delays in inspections and recalls.”

Food recall will be done quickly and food wastage due to rejection of applications can be minimised, experts pointed out.

“Overall, the system will help cut cost and time for food trade and help improve safety of food and reduce food wastage,” said Khalifa.

He said the online system will also provide the list of the Halal certification and accreditation bodies approved by the Emirates Authority for Standarization and Metrology (ESMA) to facilitate food importers to seek their services.

Dr. Rehab Faraj Al Ameri, director of National Accreditation at ESMA, said the authority has already approved accreditation bodies from seven countries and approvals for Halal accreditation bodies from four more countries are in the pipeline.

“We have also approved 41 Halal certification bodies covering 20 countries.”

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