In what is becoming an annual exercise, Climate Control Middle East magazine, as part of its editorial coverage of the refrigeration industry, gathered a set of regional and international food establishments and refrigeration equipment companies in end-May to discuss common issues concerning both camps.
While food establishments raised the need for better support from the refrigeration industry in terms of better installation and after-sales support, and best practices in design of cold stores, among other issues, the refrigeration industry spoke of challenges related to cost-conscious food establishments, which often came in the way of providing cutting-edge solutions that would help the food establishments achieve high food safety standards without compromising on energy efficiency. Cutting corners, the refrigeration industry felt, did not help from a long-term perspective.
The end-May meeting, Food Chain, not only attracted the food establishments and the refrigeration industry but also the various Municipalities in the UAE. Significantly enough, at the behest of Dubai Municipality, the event was an occasion for an inauguration ceremony to mark the formation of a committee consisting of food establishments and the refrigeration industry to produce a draft proposal containing recommendations related to refrigeration. In the time to come, Dubai Municipality will likely consider the recommendations to draft legislation on food safety from a cold chain perspective.
The committee, led by Dubai Municipality, will go through a detailed exercise lasting several months to identify important considerations in key areas of refrigeration. The mandate in front of the members of the committee is to arrive at a set of checklists for compressors, chillers, power back-up systems, transport refrigeration units, insulated panels, holding freezers, walk-in freezers and display units, to name a few. They will also draft checklists on specialised refrigeration consultants and contractors. The checklists, according to Dubai Municipality, will likely enable food establishments to make informed decisions at the time of buying refrigeration equipment or while seeking the services of consultants for the purpose of building cold storage facilities. In the end, the exercise can mean only one key direction – an improvement in food safety standards in the emirate, which could mean better health and nutrition for all.
Switching to another topic, this issue contains a rather detailed look at fire safety. The May 28 fire at Villaggio Mall in Qatar, which left 13 children and six adults dead, is a stark reminder that much more needs to be done to protect lives. According to initial reports, the sprinkler system did not work and the two exits of the fire-engulfed area were blocked by smoke. According to an official source, thick smoke and heat hindered the rescue efforts.
We await more details and hope to share them with you in the next issue.
- B Surendar