Dubai Municipality launches Mobile Food Testing Lab

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Dubai Municipality launches Mobile Food Testing Lab

It will be launched in highly populated destinations like Global Village.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Mon 29 Oct 2018, 9:14 AM

Last updated: Mon 29 Oct 2018, 2:02 PM

The Dubai Municipality (DM) has launched its debut Mobile Food Testing Lab, with Global Village acting as its very first test site. 
To ensure the highest food safety standards, the mobile lab will be on-site throughout the six-month duration of season 23 at Global Village, from October 30 to April 6, 2019. 
In collaboration with the Food Safety Department at DM, food inspectors within the mobile lab will now be able to test food samples on-the-spot at densely populated visitor attractions, with Global Village being the first.
Where normal food sample testing takes five days to turnaround results, the Mobile Food Testing Lab will expedite the process by more than half, reducing turnaround time to just two days. 
Currently, the municipality has one mobile lab in operation but Farida Mohd, head of food microbiology analysis unit told Khaleej Times that Dubai Municipality has a plan to cover all big events.
"The long term plan is to be on the spot at Expo 2020. With two main testing machines within the mobile unit, it can run 96 samples per batch in one machine and 16 samples per batch in the other; that's more than 100 food samples. The aim is to detect food-borne pathogens to avoid food contamination at highly-populated events like the Dubai World Cup, the Dubai Airshow, among others."
After touring the mobile lab at the 12th International Food Safety Conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Monday, Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security told Khaleej Times the lab will cater to large quantities of visitors. 
"The aim of the lab is to keep the consumer safe by checking food on site, to make sure there are no food-borne diseases."

How on-site testing works

The Mobile Testing Lab will run on a paperless system. Following a plan set out by the Food Safety Department, the inspector based within the mobile inspection unit will collect the necessary samples from the targeted food trucks/facilities to test ready-to-eat foods, on-the-spot. 
"Once the sample is collected, it will receive its own barcode and all information relating to it will be automatically stored within our smart system," Mohd said. 
All tests will be performed within the inspection unit, using either a molecular detection system or pathogen detection machine, depending on the type of test needed.
"It was taking too long to check food samples before, so this way we are on the frontline, right there with the consumers testing the foods to make sure it is of the highest standard," said added. 
Depending on the result, the Food Safety Department will then take the necessary action on the party responsible if food safety issues are detected. 

Opening ceremony

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12th International Food Safety Conference, Dawood Al Hajiri, Director General of Dubai Municipality said the UAE has a leading role to play in food safety.
"Each year, Dubai imports more than 10 million tonnes of food and more than 700,000 different food products.
"With 17,000 food establishments across the city and 100,000 food specialists working here, it is vital we use innovative solutions to address food issues. This year, the Food Safety Conference focuses on the current challenges which are represented in combating all aspects of counterfeit and contaminated foods, and what can be done to protect the consumer against these challenges," he said. 
His Excellency Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, was also present during the opening ceremony.

Food Statistics in Dubai 

10m tonnes of food imported to Dubai annually
700,000 different food products on offer
17,000 food establishments across Dubai 
100,000 food specialists  

DM's mobile lab

1 Mobile Food Testing Lab
112 food samples can be tested across two machines at any one time
2-day turnaround for sample results 
On site at Global Village from Oct 30 to April 6, 2019

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