Food Safety in UAE

Food Safety in UAE

Discover the intricate legal framework and dedicated entities that play a crucial role in upholding stringent standards related to food safety in UAE. In this overview, we will delve into the comprehensive regulations and governing bodies responsible for safeguarding the health and well-being of consumers through the oversight of food safety practices and standards within the UAE.

Food Safety in UAE

Ensuring Food Safety in UAE

In the UAE, maintaining food safety is a critical component of food security, given the substantial reliance on imports to meet a significant portion of the country’s food requirements. To guarantee food safety, the UAE has implemented several key measures, including:

  1. Enacting legislation dedicated to food safety.
  2. Introducing the National Food Accreditation and Registration System.
  3. Launching the National Rapid Alert System for Food.
  4. Enforcing stringent controls on imported food for non-commercial purposes.

Federal Food Safety Law

In January 2016, Federal Law No. 10 of 2015 on Food Safety received approval from the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This legislation sets forth comprehensive standards and regulations aimed at preserving the safety and quality of food, with a primary focus on safeguarding public health and consumer welfare. The law includes stringent penalties for individuals or entities found jeopardizing food safety across the UAE. Key aspects of this food law encompass:

  1. Mandatory approval from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment for the initial importation of any food into the country.
  2. Criminal penalties, including imprisonment for not less than a month and fines of up to AED 500,000, for those involved in food or products containing pork, alcohol, or their derivatives without proper authorization.
  3. Imposing fines ranging from AED 10,000 to 100,000 for those who mislead consumers through false food descriptions or incorrect labeling.
  4. Granting the Ministry of Economy the authority to impose fines of up to AED 100,000 for other violations, provided these violations are governed by Cabinet regulations.

The National Food Safety Committee, under the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment, collaborates with its partners to execute the food safety law and its accompanying executive regulations. These regulations encompass rigorous controls and standards designed to uphold food safety at every stage of the food supply chain.

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National Food Accreditation and Registration System

According to Ministerial Decree No. 239 of 2018, which outlines the National Food Accreditation and Registration System, all food items whether they are imported locally produced, or have undergone modifications in terms of their food label, ingredients, or composition, are required to be registered within the electronic system known as ZAD. ZAD is an integrated and intelligent platform designed to manage data related to food products before they are introduced to the markets in the UAE.

The National Rapid Alert System for Food

In 2017, the National Rapid Alert System for Food was introduced with the aim of ensuring the effective execution of response measures in cases of significant food-related risks. This system plays a critical role in managing food risk alerts, as well as imposing and lifting bans on adulterated and misbranded food.

The key elements of this system encompass the allocation of responsibilities and roles, the identification of various types of food alerts, and the establishment of criteria for reporting food incidents, including instances of food rejection at the border and the presence of adulterated products in the market. The system employs a classification matrix to categorize food incidents as either high, medium, or low, with classifications influenced by factors such as the severity of the risk to public health, the scope of the incident, and the number of individuals impacted by it.

Food Safety in UAE

Control of Imported Food for Personal Use

In accordance with Ministerial Decree No. 14 of 2016 regarding the Control of Imported Food for Personal Use, individuals are permitted to import personal food items through the UAE’s borders, subject to specific restrictions on types and quantities. Food packaging is required to bear clear and non-removable labels that provide information about the stakeholders involved, with the exception of food carried by passengers. Imported food must be accompanied by documents issued by the carrier in the country of origin, containing comprehensive details about the imported food products.

The UAE is a signatory to the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) (PDF, 350 KB), which establishes provisions for how governments can implement measures related to food safety and the health of animals and plants.

For additional information on food safety, please visit the website of the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment.

Local Entities Ensuring Food Safety in UAE

In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority plays a crucial role in upholding food safety standards, ensuring that food is safe for human consumption. This authority also conducts essential research and studies on food safety, issuing rules, regulations, and standards for food items sold or offered for human consumption.

Meanwhile, in the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah, the respective municipal authorities are responsible for overseeing food safety.

Local municipalities are tasked with enforcing food safety requirements, including the verification of accurate labels and expiry dates on food products. They conduct unannounced inspections of food stores and restaurants to ensure the quality and suitability of food for consumption.

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