New guidelines in the pipeline to cut food wastage in Dubai

New guidelines in the pipeline to cut food wastage in Dubai

Most food wastage happens at homes and goes up in Ramadan

By Sajila Saseendran/senior Reporter

Published: Tue 30 Jun 2015, 1:17 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

AFTERMATH OF AN IFTAR ... Half eaten biryani plates can be seen after an Iftar. —File photo

Dubai - Officials of the Food Control Department at the Dubai Municipality are currently taking stock of the situation to understand the actual volume of food wastage from food outlets, the causes and ways to minimise it.

The move also aims at getting as many charity organisations as possible on board to help donate the surplus food to the needy, officials aware of the developments told this paper.

Tips to avoid food wastage

> Avoid random shopping

> Always check the expiry date

> Always be aware of the nature of products you buy as to which can be kept frozen, and which can be kept dried.

> Don’t serve full loaded dishes.

> Try to find out ways to make edible items with leftover food.

> Prepare the list of items to be bought.

> Always think about people who are dying without having food. Try to donate food.

> Use local items to discourage high level of carbon emission caused for transportation.

> Try to use left over food as organic fertilisation to plants and trees.

“We are also collecting information on Ramadan know how much of food wastage is happening in tents,” said one official, who did not want to be named.

“First of all, food should not go waste and if there is surplus food, it should go to deserving people. We also need to make sure the quality and safety of the donated food,” she said.

Social organisations, volunteer groups and companies involved in food charities are being contacted to check how they can partner with the municipality and the food establishments to distribute the surplus food to workers, poor families and other needy people.

The Dubai Municipality is drafting new guidelines for food establishments to keep food wastage in check, especially in the month of Ramadan and during other festivals, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The details of the guidelines will be announced only after they are approved by the Director-General of Dubai Municipality Hussain Nasser Lootah, who has been keen on implementing an effective programme to cut food wastage and help the needy, the official said.

Another official said wastage can be cut down drastically if excess food is not displayed at buffets and wedding halls.

“I feel we have more issues with on-table service here. I see people setting tables at local wedding halls with too much of food, which is obviously going to be wasted,” he added. The situation is the same with many Ramadan tents and Iftar distribution centres, where, very often, food is served in excess.

“Those preparing food should have a clear understanding of the number of people they can anticipate. They should cook and serve the food as per the numbers and need,” the official said.

The municipality has been coordinating with the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities and local charity groups to collect leftover food from functions and hotels and distribute them to needy families, workers and others.

In the project titled Hifz Al- Ni’am, (Value the Blessings) the municipality bears all the technical responsibility with regards to the safety of the collected food and Islamic affairs deals with volunteers and charity groups.

Several thousands of people have benefitted from the programme that started in 2008.  The municipality wants to streamline the programme by issuing guidelines and bringing on board the maximum number of food outlets and voluntary and charity groups.

According to the municipality, most of the food wastage happens at households and it goes up during Ramadan.  Hence, officials say, consumers need to be better aware of food wastage and ways to minimise it.

Eat safe and do exercise

This Ramadan, let’s eat safe food, waste less and do exercise at night to keep fit.

    This the message that the Food Control Department is spreading through the social media. Using its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, the civic body has been sending out awareness messages on these topics.

Some of the tweets have urged Dubai residents to cook what is necessary and not to cook too much in advance during Ramadan.

“Cooked food cannot be held for a long time and will become unsafe if not hot.”

“By reducing the quantity that’s cooked, you can reduce waste.”

“Plan well with family and guests to ensure that you know how much to prepare.”

“Cold food should be stored cold until consumption at 5C and hot food at 60C,” read some other tweets from @foodsafetydubai,

The Twitter handle of the department is managed by its Principal Food Inspector Bobby Krishna. In another new initiative, the department has launched an awareness drive to highlight the importance of exercising especially after dinner and how sports prevents diseases and enhances health.

One of the animated videos being aired on local TV channels and social networking sites of the municipality tells people to brisk walk for 42 minutes or cycle for 23 minutes to burn 150 calories consumed by eating harees, a popular Emirati dish.

While highlighting the benefits of sports and exercises, the municipality is also encouraging the residents to make use of its parks, jogging tracks, exercise machines and other facilities to keep them fit and healthy.

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