Senior GCC food department officials were in the UAE capital to discuss ways to develop a rapid food alert system for the Gulf region at a meeting hosted by Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.
The ADFCA hosted the first meeting of the permanent team, drawn from the Food Safety Committee for the GCC States.
The team has been entrusted with the task of developing a GCC rapid alert system for food and with the preparation of requirements in order to automate the system, said a statement from the authority.
Dr Mariam Harib Al Yousuf, the executive director of Policy and Regulation sector at ADFCA, chaired the meeting, in the presence of representatives from the General Secretariat of the GCC and from the other member states.
The meeting discussed the requirements of the proposed GCC rapid alert system for food, such as procedures, the types of alerts to be exchanged, the required guidelines for the system and roles and responsibilities for each of the central, national and provincial focal points that will be developed into an online program for exchange of food safety alerts.
A presentation made by the UAE elaborated on the main requirements of the rapid alert system. The team reviewed the bylaw for the system suggested by Saudi and also listened to the views of Qatar on the matter.
A detailed action plan to develop the system, mooted by the UAE, was also discussed and adapted, said the ADFCA in its statement.
Dr Al Yousuf said the main objectives of the rapid alert system were the expeditious exchange of information to preempt the entry into the market of food items suspected to pose a risk to the consumers’ health and to take the necessary action in a rapid and co-ordinated manner for purposes of protecting the consumer through recall or withdrawal of the affected products from the markets.
The system also aims to unifying the procedures across the GCC states, in addition to joint efforts to save resources and time, eventually resulting in enhanced food safety across the GCC countries, she added.