Food safety meet begins with focus on awareness

By: Zainab al Nasseri

MUSCAT: The Food Safety Conference 2015 kicked off on Tuesday at Al Bustan Palace Hotel under the auspices of Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidy, Minister of Interior, in the presence of a number of ministers, under-secretaries, members of the State Council and food safety professionals. The two-day conference is organised by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources in cooperation with various agencies under the theme ‘Food Safety, the Responsibility of Everyone’.

A large number of experts, specialists and personnel working in the field are participating in the conference.

The meet aims at raising awareness about the important role played by raw material producers and the first stages of the food chain. It also stresses their effective role in controlling food products safety and quality till they reach the end users.

The 21 scientific papers to be presented at the conference discuss six themes namely, halal food, the risk levels of pesticide residues in food products, food industries and organic, inorganic and biological contaminants, pathogens transmitted through food, mycotoxins and antibiotics in food, and supervision and control of food safety.

Hamed al Garebi, the Ministry’s Under-Secretary, said that a lot of modern techniques in food industry have emerged and that led to change related food habits and increase health risks expected accordingly. “Latest statistics released by World Health Organization (WHO) stated that food and water borne problems cause annually two million deaths around the world, mostly children”, he said.

The ministry has developed, in cooperation with authorities concerned, a food safety system based on scientific studies. Consequently, Food Safety Centre has been established and soon it will be operational.

“There is also the Strategic Programme of Food Safety which is adopted by the Scientific Research Council. It is studying micobiological and chemical contaminating elements in food, genetically modified food, eating habits in Omani society and their impacts on their health, local legislation related to food safety compared to regional and international standards, and building national abilities in same field”, Al Garebi added.

He pointed out that there are 50,000 food establishments spread all over the Sultanate until the end of 2014, mentioning that 3,700 tonnes of food had been destroyed because they didn’t maintain certified standards.

A visual display of the conference topic was shown aiming to raise awareness about the danger of microbiological and chemical contaminating elements in food. A presentation on the strategic plan of the WHO in the field of food safety (2013-2022) was given by Dr Usama Maher in which he spoke about variant food and food poisoning. He also shed light on relationship between human beings’ health and animals’ health, analysed risks and consumers demands.

On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition is being held at Majan Hall in the hotel with the participation of food institutions, enterprises and companies in order to show their efforts in the areas of food safety and quality.

Wednesday’s programme includes discussion on three main aspects: Pathogens transferred via food; reality and challenges, fungus poisons, antibiotics in food, and techniques used to monitor food safety.

Earlier this week, two workshops dealing with food affairs were held with the participation of about 300 people from different food related fields. The first workshop titled “Agricultural Pesticides” included a number of sub-themes, such as the related national and international laws and regulations. The second workshop titled “Safety of Health Practices in Food Establishments” included several sub-themes targeting health inspectors, technicians and supervisors.


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