BY SAJILA SASEENDRAN
VEHICLES transporting foodstuff from other emirates to Dubai could soon be flagged down by the police as Dubai Municipality (DM) is seeking assistance from the law enforcers to crack down on vehicles not approved for carrying food items.
Director of the Food Control Department at DM, Khalid Mohammed Sharif Al Awadi, recently told The Gulf Today that DM would soon tie-up with Dubai Police for enforcing rules regarding specifications of vehicles transporting food items.
The Municipality, in co-ordination with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), had prepared a code of practice for vehicles carrying food stuff in a bid to rid the supplying industry of bad practices such as using pickups and other vehicles to carry quickly perishable food items. The move also followed complaints that foods supplied by small to large-scale suppliers do not arrive fresh to hotels.
Last year, food traders and suppliers were given a six month grace period to modify their existing fleet of vehicles in line with a new set of technical specifications pertaining to vehicles transporting various food items. The civic body has been collaborating with RTA in spreading awareness about the need for getting approval from the Food Control Department for registering or renewing the licence of such vehicles.
The department had stepped up inspection of such vehicles in Dubai as part of a food safety campaign launched before summer. Since January 2008, over 3,500 vehicles have been registered after enough modifications have been done on them.
"Companies in Dubai are now aware that their vehicles should adhere to the municipality's specifications for securing the approval from our department. Many of them are doing it, following our campaign launched in co-operation with RTA," said Awadi.
However, the official said, it was difficult to monitor the food supplying vehicles coming to Dubai from other emirates. "There are hundreds of food supplying vehicles that come to Dubai from other emirates like Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. We do not have a mechanism to monitor the health and hygiene requirements in these vehicles. So, we have decided to seek the help of Dubai Police to inspect them," he said.
The official has warned violators against strict action including fines and cancellation of vehicles' approval if they do not meet health and hygiene requirements. Fines start from Dhs500.
"Safe transportation of food items is the key to ensuring hygiene of the materials supplied to the consumer. Any negligence in this regard can cost the consumers dear. Our objective behind introducing the code is to root out the practice of using any type of vehicle to carry food items. Many traders say they use pickup, for instance, to carry food for one or two hours. But, given the extreme weather conditions in summer, this is enough time to get the food contaminated," Awadi stated in April.
All food establishments in Dubai are required to submit an application to the Food Control Section with details of the company, staff, and vehicles. They should also specify the type of food items such as meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, vegetables or fruits that they are supplying or transporting. If the vehicles are licensed in other emirates than Dubai, they must belong to a food supplier approved by DM.
The food-transporting vehicles can be checked at the department's office in the Central Vegetable and Fruits Market in Warsan for getting the approval to register or renew their licenses.
Validity for such an approval, which will cost Dhs100, shall be for one year, following which the same procedures should be repeated. Stickers of different colours, depending on the type of food that is carried by each vehicle (green for vegetables, red for meat etc), will be pasted in a visible place on the vehicle showing the validity of the licence.
Source: Gulf Today