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Clean Middle East Magazine
Diversey Consulting organizes Saudi Arabia’s First International Food Safety Conference and workshops
Dated: 27-06-2010

The conference was held first in Riyadh followed by Jeddah while the workshops were held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, Dammam

Diversey Consulting, the Food Safety Division of Diversey, the global supplier of cleaning chemical solutions, organised two international food safety conferences and three food safety workshops, the first-ever for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The first conference was held in Riyadh on May 30 and in Jeddah on May 31, followed by three very successful workshops which were conducted in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, Dammam. Over three hundred delegates attended the two conferences whilst over two hundred participants attended the three workshops.

These unique conferences were possible with the support of key sponsors Al Baik and Nestle Middle East. The conferences provided a platform for representatives from the regulatory bodies, industry, academia and consumers to come together and discuss the challenges faced by these key stakeholders with a common objective i.e. to ensure that food that is produced and made available to the consumer is not only of good quality but more importantly, it is safe to eat.

Renowned local and international speakers from the group of stakeholders presented papers and were involved in open discussions with delegates to share ideas based on up-to-date research data, advances in technologies and other key developments which would impact the food industry. These discussions would lead to methodologies which would enhance further the safety and quality of food available to consumers in the Gulf Region.

The conference sessions were chaired by Abdul Rashid, Diversey Consulting’s Regional Director for GCC, ME & Africa. The key speaker was Dr Anwar Al Abdullah from the Riyadh-based Gulf Standards Organisation (GSO), who stated how his organization was working closely with other government bodies such as Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO) to harmonise standards between member Gulf Countries to allow for seamless food trade. Ray Ellard from the Food Standards Agency, Ireland, UK, spoke about how government bodies can work together with other stakeholders to set up effective and efficient systems to enhance food safety.

Richard Sprenger, Chairman of Highfields UK shared his experiences of how effective legislation and enforcement could be beneficial to the food industry and provide greater protection to the consumer.

Other internationally recognized speakers were from the world of academia. These included Dr Ewen Todd from Michigan State University, USA, who discussed prevention and control strategies involving personal hygiene issues faced by food handlers. Dr Chris Griffiths from the University of Wales, UK, spoke about government surveillance of food borne outbreaks and encouraged regulatory bodies to develop preventative and control strategies closely involving the food industry. He highlighted the important factor of ‘food safety culture’ within an organization and how this could only be achieved by total commitment from top management and who themselves had to lead by example.

Dr Abdul Basit of Food Vision Canada spoke about the emergence of allergens and how an increasing numbers of consumers are being affected by allergenic ingredients in food products and the need to increase awareness of this growing challenge to the food industry.

Industry representatives included Beat Stettler, Quality Assurance Nestle Middle East; Haris Ishtaweera, Quality Manager Al Marai; Ashraf Shehata, Scientific and Regulatory Manager Mars and Russell Dunn, Regional Quality Manager Kraft and Ahmed from Qatar Flour Mills explained in detail how their internal Food Safety and Quality Management Systems worked to ensure that the consumer received the best quality product which was safe to consume.

Other speakers from the USA included Richard Dunn, NSF who spoke about the ‘DNA of Beverage and Water Quality, and Manal Saleh who took the delegates through the process of achieving compliance with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Standard.

All the sessions were very interactive, with question and answer sessions revealing how important the issue of food safety and quality was amongst the delegates and consumers in general in the Gulf Region.


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