This article is just to make you feel good! It’s to remind you that you are not the only one fighting the good fight of compliance. There are fellow soldiers all around the world and I met some in the UAE recently. I found them amid the hustle and bustle of Dubai, the sumptuous buffets and the extravagant hotels. Here are some of the compliance issues I came across during my visit...
You may not have known, but legal requirements in Dubai require any food product to be manufactured in a company that has implemented a HACCP system. So, despite their medical certifications, pharmaceutical companies must still implement a full HACCP system – even if the product they are making is only bottled water. Obviously, the overlap with cGMP is extensive, so the PRP’s are already in place. Existing validation protocols also assist greatly in terms of the CCP’s. Major retail pharmaceutical companies are requiring food suppliers to meet requirements - but what about those supplements that hover on the fence – not a medicine and not a food therefore not controlled at all? Scary!
While it is always great to make new friends, this is one I would have preferred not to meet, especially during food safety training. But one pesky roach brazenly made an appearance at the first tea break on the first day of a 5-day training course! Needless to say, all 5 delegates raised a nonconformance. Staff rushed to remove the offender who put up a gallant fight and managed to traverse the entire tea station before being removed. Many apologies later from all levels of hotel management, I put it down to auditor's luck. I am sure with some of my SA colleagues in attendance (namely one Rolf Uys) many more would have gathered, given his reputation for very thorough audits and gift of finding the one lone ranger roach, despite the best pest control services money can buy. At least you know it doesn’t just happen to you!
The UAE is leading the way with energy efficient cars in the land of cheap petrol. There was a large car show was taking place during my visit. And not just any car show – Renault were launching their range of electric cars to the Dubai market. That’s a non-starter you might say – given the number of gas guzzlers on the road, the persistent roar of V8 engines and the reasonable price for fuel.
However, the price of oil has had a negative impact on fuel prices so the large cars are not the automatic choice anymore. This, coupled with the government’s vision to lead the international charge with energy efficient cars, makes this new range likely to succeed. Further incentives in the form of reduced interest loans for energy efficient cars makes it even more attractive. Only time will tell.
The lesson learned, even if we have the resources we should still be taking care of what we have. A good lesson for all food companies – do the right environmental thing just because it’s the right thing to do.
An extended news feature on one of the largest English television stations highlighted the CSR progress in the region. Government departments are expected to lead the way with CSR initiatives and legislation provides additional pressure to ensure a positive impact on the community. Several CSR platforms exist to support industry. We hope FoodFocus will fulfil that role in the South African food industry.
The last significant event took place on the last day of training. We were already behind schedule, so any interruptions were definitely not welcomed. But just before tea, the fire alarm sounded and a very insistent female voice told us to leave the building vis the stairs. (All rooms are connected to a public-address system – great idea by the way!) Grabbing my passport, I ushered my charges to the stairs…on the 15th floor.
Thank goodness, we were in Abu Dhabi and not the sky scrapers of Dubai. We huffed and puffed our way down the stairs only to be informed maintenance tested the alarm every Thursday and we had evacuated for nothing. We used the lifts on the way back.
My take away - the importance of proper procedures and induction training for all visitors cannot be understated. Keep doing the right thing – you never know when you will need the procedure and it’s too late to find out in a blazing inferno that it doesn’t work.
Finally, a lesson in quality management. One cannot fail to be impressed at the quality of service at the hotels – particularly the food. The presentation, variety, attention to detail and the constant attention of the kitchen staff of the buffets are only some of the things that stood out. It was also evident in the coldness on the cold section and the proper equipment used to maintain the hot section (no burners here!), right through to temperature monitoring by the Executive chef.
They too have unskilled labour, they too have challenges with culture and language given the number of foreign nationals but yet there is a solid understanding of the need to ensure customer satisfaction. We can learn a lot!