Residents buy vegetables at a market in Abu Dhabi. Awareness campaigns on how to keep food fresh and the right temperature for proper storage have helped keep Abu Dhabi free from any major food safety incidents in recent years. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (Adfca) will intensify its efforts to involve community groups and government and private organisations to ensure an incident-free summer this year.

“Most of the food safety incidents are reported during summer and we think the involvement of the community in food safety measures can prevent many such cases because awareness is key,” a senior official told Gulf News on Monday.

Although some community groups and organisations have been part of the authority’s food safety drive, many more can join for this common cause, Mohammad Jalal Al Raisi, Director of Communication and Community Services at Adfca, said in an interview.

“We are not satisfied with the number of such groups or organisations involved and want to enhance participation,” he said.

Highlighting the role of awareness campaigns run through various channels, including traditional media and social media, he said these had helped make Abu Dhabi emirate free from any major food safety incidents in recent years. No incidents such as death or serious illnesses due to food poisoning have been reported in recent years, Al Raisi said.

“The incidents reported during summer are minor issues. If general awareness campaigns were able to prevent major incidents, we think the community’s involvement can stop those minor issues also,” he said.

Such minor issues are caused by lack of awareness on storage temperature of various foods, hygienic practices, exposure of foods to sun, etc, he said without giving any figure of such incidents during summer.

“If we can directly take such awareness tips to people directly, it will be more effective,” Al Raisi said.

He said community groups and organisations can create a venue for people to get food safety tips from Adfca’s experts. They can clear their doubts about safe food handling at such programmes.

The experts will give tips on how to prevent food poisoning, cross-contamination and other food-related problems.

Organisations interested in conducting such initiatives can contact the Adfca’s awareness section to schedule a programme. This will be done on a first-come-first-serve basis, subject to the availability of experts. This service is free.

Organisations with more members [or employees] will be given preference.

Government, business and educational organisations can conduct awareness programmes at their premises with Adfca’s help, he said.

The authority will intensify its efforts in regulating and inspecting the market during summer. Transportation of food during summer is a risky business because varying temperatures can cause many problems. Adfca inspectors regularly pay special attention to vehicles that transport food to ensure that they maintain proper temperature and do not expose food to direct sunlight.

Another aspect of awareness is encouraging the community to report such violations to the authority. People can call Abu Dhabi Government’s toll-free number 800555.

For awareness campaigns, contact:-

Email: awareness@adfca.ae

Log on to www.facebook.com/adfca, twitter@adfca or www.adfca.a