What are the Consequences and Fines for Food Hygiene Violations in the UAE?

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Food safety and food hygiene are crucial in maintaining the security of food, especially food that is being imported into the UAE. The UAE has passed the Federal Law No. 10 of 2015 on Food Safety (Food Safety Law), which aims to ensure the safety and health of traded food. It also aims to protect the consumers from harmful, adulterated or deceptive food and their health by eliminating or decreasing the risks connected with food.

Scope of the Law

The Food Safety Law applies to establishments, shipments of food imported into UAE or in transit after due inspection by the competent authorities, at each stage of food chain. The Food Safety Law defines an “establishment” to mean a place which has been licensed to produce, manufacture, prepare, process, package, transport, import, store, distribute, submit, display, sale or export food. The establishment could be through a movable, permanent or a temporary facility.

Are there any consents & registrations required to be taken under the Food Safety Law?

Yes, the Food Safety Law requires consents and approvals to be taken, depending upon the activity. Under Article 7/1 of the Food Safety Law, no commercial, industrial or professional activity related to food can be undertaken unless prior official consent has been obtained.

All food manufacturers, produces and importers are required to register their product under Article 7/2 of the Food Safety Law before they can trade the products.

Article 8 of the Food Safety Law also prohibits the import of any food into the UAE for the first time unless the Ministry of Environment and Water has approved it. No food can also be imported through the country’s ports, without the requisite documents and certificates accompanying the food.

What are the obligations of the persons in charge of establishments?

A natural or a legal person is considered to be in charge of an establishment who is licensed and liable for the implementation of the Food Safety Law and the other regulations applicable to the establishment of which it is in charge.

There are several obligations on the person in charge of an establishments under Article 9 of the Food Safety Law. Some of the key ones include the following:

1. Ensuring food health, safety and suitability for human consumption.

2. Applying food safety systems as approved by the UAE.

3. Notifying the competent authorities of any food posing a risk to the health of the customers.

4. Ensuring accuracy and validity of the data of the food card related to the food to facilitate tracking process.

5. Withdrawing, retrieving the food and notifying the competent authorities if he food is proved to be unsafe for human consumption, or breaches the provisions of the Food Safety Law or other standard specifications and technical regulations.

Key Prohibitions under the Law

Establishments are prohibited under Article 12/2 to trade in rotten, harmful, adulterated, deceptive food, food which violates the technical regulations or inappropriate food. They are also prohibited under Article 12/4 to change or dispose of the data or components of the retained food without the written consent of the competent authorities.

Penalties for Violating the Food Safety Law

The Food Safety Law under Article 14 provides several penalties for violating the provisions of the law.

Under the Food Safety Law, any person, at whichever stage of the food chain, who trades in adulterated, harmful or rotten food, is punishable with imprisonment of at least 3 months and / or fines of up to AED 2,000,000.

Trading in food containing pork or its derivatives, alcohol or other products which violate the provisions of the Sharia’a, without license, is punishable with imprisonment of at least 1 month and /or fines of up to AED 500,000. Trading, promoting, contributing or publishing a false description of any food with the aim of deceiving a consumer is punishable with fines ranging between AED 10,000 to AED 100,000. Violating the technical regulations is punishable with fines of up to AED 100,000. There is also a general penalty provision which prescribes a fine of AED 10,000 for violating any provision of the Law for which any specific penalty has not been provided.

Conclusion

It is crucial for establishments to adhere to the Food Safety Law and its regulations as violations could lead to hefty fines and even imprisonment in some cases.

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