The Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE) was strongly represented at this year’s edition of the Dubai International Food Safety Conference (DIFSC12), which took place from October 29–31, 2018. SAFE’s contribution to the scientific and technical program showcased the progress accomplished to date towards strengthening the convergence of food safety regulatory requirements in the Arab region.   

The Egyptian National Food Safety Agency (NFSA), Egypt’s newly created competent authority responsible for food safety and consumer protection, a key actor in the implementation of SAFE, was also strongly represented at the meeting.

SAFE enabled the organization of several high-level meetings between senior Arab food safety regulators and their counterparts of international food safety agencies around the world such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and China’s National Centre of Food Safety Risk Assessment. Arab regulatory agencies were represented by their senior leaders who attended the meeting in numbers with participation from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, and Kuwait, enabling effective information exchange and discussions of collaborative action within SAFE and beyond.

SAFE’s achievements and its future directions were presented during the session dedicated to “Changes in the Arab and International Food Regulatory Environment: Towards More Sustainable Capacity Building Efforts” where the project’s efforts to achieve a more convergent food safety regulatory environment in the Arab Region was highlighted. NFSA also showcased its recent accomplishments and future plans, as part of the vision to transform the food safety regulatory landscape in Egypt, in accordance with international best practices.

Arab food safety regulators contributed with their counterparts to a panel discussion which focused on:

• Reviewing major developments in the food regulatory landscape of the Arab region and internationally

• Discussing opportunities for enhanced collaboration between Arab and international food safety regulators, as well as sustaining capacity building efforts

• Discussing avenues to sustain the investments made to date in enhancing the food regulatory system in the Arab region, country support efforts, and progress in the convergence of food safety regulatory measures adopted by Arab food regulators

SAFE officials also contributed to another session entitled “Arab Symposium on Food Safety Regulatory Issues in the Middle East.” In this session, SAFE and NFSA presented challenges of food safety regulations in the region and its impact on intraregional trade. The NFSA executive director presented the steps that led to the creation of the national agency and the future directions it intends to take in response to emerging issues and to strengthen consumer protection along with increased trust in food and Agri-food products produced in Egypt and destined to domestic and export markets.

Bilateral meetings were also organized on the margins of DIFSC12 between regulators and other stakeholders. In particular, NFSA’s leadership interacted with key representatives of the food production sector present in the Middle East and headquartered in Dubai.  

NFSA’s dedicated promotional booth witnessed a large crowd from food safety authorities, private sector, and other DIFSC12 participants, who showed strong interest in NFSA’s ongoing and future work.

SAFE’s contributions to the enhancement of the Arab food safety regulatory environment and its vision to enhance the convergence of food safety measures in the Arab region, in line with international standards, were identified by stakeholders and international food safety officials as key initiatives, warranting support for a continued and sustainable investment.

Since its inception in 2017, SAFE has been providing technical assistance to NFSA under the Country Support Program in Egypt, a SAFE-led initiative, with the aim to build its capacity and support its mandate to advance the food safety agenda in Egypt. The initiative will contribute to an improved ability of the NFSA and its partners to contribute to regional efforts of enhanced coordination and harmonization of food safety interventions, improved consumer protection, and a more efficient implementation of a national food control system in Egypt. To read more about SAFE, please visit the official SAFE website. You can also follow the initiative on Facebook and Twitter.

NFSA is an independent authority, reporting directly to the office of the Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt. It is responsible for the protection of consumers health and consumers interests by ensuring that food products consumed, distributed, marketed or produced in Egypt meet the highest standards of food safety and hygiene. The NFSA is also responsible for the oversight and control of licensing, certification, inspection, import/export control, as well as the supervision and regulation of food stuffs. To learn more about the NFSA, visit the official NFSA website.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization, and environmental sustainability.