By PMA RASHEED
12 Oct 2010, The Gulf Today
Further tightening food and bio-security mechanism in Dubai, the civic authorities on Monday have mandated all food establishments in the emirate to appoint a trained and certified food safety specialist titled Person-in-Charge (PIC) at their facilities.
The new regulation to employ the person, who ensures all applied food safety policies and procedures, will come in to effect from January 2011, according to a senior official at Dubai Municipality (DM).
Khalid Mohammed Sharif, Director of Food Control Department of the DM, said that the PIC’s responsibility is to monitor food safety by supervising all sorts of food handling procedures such as preparation, storage, display or serving orders.
“The PIC can be the establishment owner or a designated person like shift leader, chef, kitchen manager, having direct authority to actively control the practices. The managerial control on food safety activities will protect public health and reduce food waste,” he added.
“Safe and hygienic practices were found to be very poor in many food establishments of the emirate. People in managerial level were either not trained well or not involved in enforcing food safety practices," noted Sharif.
“The PIC should have the capability to implement right and quick food safety related decisions. The person will be liaising with the civic inspectors or regulatory office,” he said.
“Unless there is a responsible person present in the facility, the inspectors cannot provide recommended corrective actions for the violations found during the inspections. Consumers also will be communicating with the PIC to lodge a complaint to the establishment about their food or service," he pointed out.
According to him, some food trading companies breach regulations while importing food into the country. Such violations are detected at ports, and the food import is either rejected or discarded.
“Many of such unnecessary issues could be prevented if a trader has a good understanding about the food standards and related requirements and corrects it at the country of origin," Sharif elaborated.
“The PICs will have to undergo a mandatory accredited training programme, which will be commenced in December. Different custom-made training programmes have been designed for the PICs from sectors like retail, manufacturing, catering or food trading,” Sharif noted.
“The PICs in the retail and manufacturing sectors will receive intensive training in safe food preparation, food storage, cleaning, personal hygiene, building construction, pest control and staff training,” he said.
"They will be educated on local food regulations, following food inspections and taking corrective actions when necessary; following up and responding to customers’ complaints. Lessons on food import regulations, labelling, microbiological and chemical standards will also be in store,” he added.
“The medium of instruction will be English, but the lectures will be delivered in Arabic, Malayalam and Urdu languages by the first quarter of the next year. A PIC handbook will also be published guiding them how to operate a food establishment safely,” said Sharif.
According to him, the most important part will be that of ‘self inspection’ where the PICs will be taught the inspection methods at their own work place.