Read about the legal provisions and the entities responsible to ensure food safety in the UAE.
Food safety is an essential element of food security, especially in the UAE, which depends on imports for meeting a large part of its food needs. The UAE took the following measures to ensure food safety.
In January 2016, the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved the Federal Law No. 10 of 2015 on Food Safety (PDF, 250 KB). The law imposes standards and regulations for maintaining the safety and quality of food and ensuring the protection of public health and consumers. The law imposes strict penalties on those found to be endangering food safety across the UAE. Some aspects of the food law are:
The law authorises Ministry of Economy to impose fines of up to AED 100,000 for other offences, provided that these offences are regulated by the Cabinet. Through its National Food Safety Committee, the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment works with its partners on implementing the law on safety of food and its executive regulations, which includes strict controls and standards to ensure food safety throughout the food chain.
A per the Ministerial Decree No. 239 of 2018 on National Food Accreditation and Registration System (250 KB, PDF in Arabic), food whether imported or locally produced or modified on its food label or ingredients or composition must be registered in the electronic system (ZAD), which is an integrated smart platform for food products data, before being handled in the UAE’s markets.
The National Rapid Alert System for Food was launched in 2017 to ensure proper implementation of response measures when serious food risks are detected. The system identifies the mechanisms of managing food risk alerts as well as banning and lifting of bans on adulterated and misbranded food.
The components of the system include: assignment of responsibilities and roles, identifying types of food alerts, identifying the criteria to report food incidents, including border rejection of food and adulterated products in the market. The system applies a classification matrix to the food incidents as either high, medium or low. It also includes the triggers for the classification, namely the severity of risk to public health, the size and scale of an incident and the number of people affected by it.
According to Ministerial Decree No. 14 of 2016 on Controlling of Imported Food for Non-trading Purpose (300 KB, PDF in Arabic), personal food is allowed to be imported through the country’s borders with a restriction on specific types and quantities. Food packages should have clear and non-removable labels that include the names of stakeholders except for the food which passengers bring. Imported food should enclose documents issued by the carrier in the country of origin. The documents must have full details of the imported foods.
The UAE is a signatory to the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures SPS (PDF, 350 KB). The agreement sets provisions on how governments can apply food safety and animal and plant health measures.
Read more on food safety on the website of the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment.
Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority ensures food safety in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and guarantees that the food is fit for human consumption. It also conducts the necessary research and studies on safe food and issue rules, regulations and standards on food items sold or offered for human consumption.
In the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah, food safety falls under the scope of the respective municipal authorities.
Local municipalities oversee food safety requirements and ensure that products have correct labels and expiry dates for consumption. They conduct random inspections across all food stuff stores and restaurants to ensure the quality of food supplied and to ensure that it is suitable for people to eat.
For more information, check the links bellow: