Dubai [UAE], September 29 (ANI/WAM): The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) is intensifying its efforts to develop an integrated strategy to reduce food loss and waste (FLW), and improve the efficiency of the production chain, as part of its commitment to its central role in agricultural and food sustainability in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
ADAFSA stated on the occasion of the World Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste, observed on 29th September of each year, that the strategy to reduce FLW is based on several fundamental pillars. These include the development and updating of legislation related to agriculture and food safety, launching programmes and initiatives aimed at changing behaviour regarding food production and consumption from farm to table, and implementing training programmes for workers in food agricultural establishments. Additionally, it includes awareness campaigns targeting various segments of society, urging them to rationalise consumption and reduce waste to ensure food security sustainability.
The development and updating of the legislative system is one of the most important pillars of the FLW reduction strategy, as good practices in handling food help to reduce food spoilage, which is one of the most important causes of FLW throughout the food chain. ADAFSA has issued a package of legislation regarding food safety during the stages of the food chain. They have also issued illustrative guidelines for food establishments, explaining the legislation in a simple and easy manner, along with guidelines for good agricultural practices that help reduce loss and waste during harvesting and transportation processes.
The Authority follows a risk analysis approach in interpreting the safety of the product based on scientific evidence, contributing to FLW reduction. At the federal level, ADAFSA has taken the initiative to work with federal authorities to update and amend the technical regulations related to food labelling and the production and expiration dates to align with international practices.
Expiration dates are one of the most important factors that contribute to the reduction of food loss and waste. Therefore, ADAFSA has worked to issue guidelines for manufacturers that explain how to comply with the relevant regulations.
In its role of overseeing the agricultural sector, the Authority provides technical and agricultural guidance and awareness to farmers about the best practices that can be followed to preserve the quality of fruits after harvesting by quickly cooling them immediately after harvest and storing them at the optimum temperatures to increase the shelf life of fruits and thereby reduce the loss. In addition, farmers are directed to plant varieties that are most suitable for the UAE's climate and the nature of agricultural land to ensure the optimum use of limited natural resources.
Additionally, recommendations are provided to farmers on agricultural technologies that help to improve the efficiency of agricultural production, and the importance of using renewable resources such as solar energy and recycled water.
The Authority also offers training programmes for workers in the agricultural sector to help them build awareness of the concept of sustainability and help them qualify to use pesticides in the right way, and to carry out the harvesting process in a way that preserves the quality of the agricultural product and reduces damage during post-harvest.
The Authority recently issued 36 extension manuals for preserving the quality of fruits after harvest, covering 41 crops. This is based on its belief that post-harvest handling is one of the important elements in production stages, and an important pillar in the food security system. FAO reports indicate that following the correct practices of post-harvest handling can increase the shelf life of the product for trading and consumption.
It also ensures a reduction in production loss by up to 20-50%. Post-harvest handling is therefore important as it contributes to increasing food production and supporting food security, in addition to enhancing the competitiveness of products and thus increasing the income of farm owners that apply it. Specialised training programmes are available for workers in industrial food establishments, restaurants, and hotels, educating them on handling food safely to maintain consumer food safety and reduce waste resulting from food spoilage or contamination.
ADAFSA has also issued a guidance manual on reducing food waste in the catering sector. This manual was developed in accordance with best practices in the development of legislation, as included in its guide for the development of legislation and policies. The draft of this manual, which is the first of its kind in this field, came in line with government directives and ADAFSA's strategic plan, as it is part of the food security system.
This manual was developed to provide guidance and assistance to the food service sector to contribute to enhancing food security and protecting the environment by reducing food waste in accordance with ADAFSA's legislation regarding food safety and international best food waste reduction practices. This manual follows the strategies outlined by FAO regarding food waste reduction, emphasising environmentally friendly options and improving the economic and environmental efficiency of food agricultural sectors by using food waste in organic fertilisers.
It also allows the catering sector to develop food waste reduction plans, involve consumers in reducing food waste by promoting awareness, and provide different food consumption options (e.g., offering various meal sizes). This helps consumers reduce food waste.
To minimise waste on the consumer side, ADAFSA intensifies its awareness campaigns to educate consumers on proper home food storage methods and the importance of consuming according to need to reduce FLW. The Authority collaborates with other entities such as the UAE Red Crescent (Food Conservation Project) to conduct educational workshops in schools and universities, raising awareness about the importance of preserving food, reducing waste, and the consumer's role in sustaining food security.
ADAFSA urges all stakeholders in the food chain to avoid behaviours and habits that lead to FLW throughout the chain, from the farm to the table. It emphasises that the most significant food waste occurs during the stages from harvest to retail, highlighting the necessity to care for products through these stages and follow advice and guidelines that reduce food loss.
The Authority also encourages consumers to steer away from negative eating habits, begin reducing food quantities prepared and purchased to their needs, considering proper storage requirements, safe shopping, and other positive behaviours to preserve and reduce food waste. (ANI/WAM)