Lab-on-wheels to test food pathogens at major events

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Lab-on-wheels to test food pathogens at major events
The first mobile food testing lab will be stationed at the Global village until the end of the season.

Dubai - The state-of-the-art laboratory will be on the site throughout the six-month duration of Global Village's 23rd season, from October 30 to April 6, 2019.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Mon 29 Oct 2018, 8:15 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Oct 2018, 10:25 PM

The Dubai Municipality (DM) has launched its first Mobile Food Testing Lab at the Global Village, where experts would be testing food samples on the spot to ensure the highest safety standards. 
The state-of-the-art laboratory will be on the site throughout the six-month duration of Global Village's 23rd season, from October 30 to April 6, 2019. The festival park is the first of several other sites mapped out for the lab. 
Where normal food sample testing takes five days to generate results, the Mobile Food Testing Lab is well equipped to expedite the process and produce results in just two days. In collaboration with the Food Safety Department at the DM, the mobile lab's inspectors will primarily be stationed at densely populated attractions and event sites. 
Currently, the municipality is operating one mobile lab, but Farida Mohammed, head of food microbiology analysis unit, told Khaleej Times that the DM plans 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 contamination at highly populated events like the Dubai World Cup and 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, Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mehairi, Minister of State for Food Security, told Khaleej Times that the lab would cater to large numbers of visitors. 
"The aim of the lab is to keep consumers safe by checking their food right on the site. We want 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 at the mobile inspection unit will collect the necessary samples from the targeted food trucks and facilities and test ready-to-eat items 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 a pathogen detection machine, depending on the type of test needed. "It was taking too long to check food samples before; in this way, we are on the frontline, right there with the consumers, testing the foods to make sure it is of the highest standard," Mohd added. 
Depending on the result, the Food Safety Department will then take the necessary action 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 the DM, 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 that we use innovative solutions to address food issues. This year, the Food Safety Conference focuses on the current challenges of combating all aspects of contaminated foods, and what can be done to protect the consumer against these challenges," he said.
Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, was also present during the opening ceremony.

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