The measure, which assesses the country’s food-safety competence, is based on 87 criteria such as control systems and lab strength, and is expressed as a percentage.
While the food-safety index sat at just 74% in 2013, it had improved by almost a quarter by the end of last year to an almost perfect score.
The UAE’s food chief has largely attributed the UAE’s current 98% rating to recent federal legislation that succeeded in enhancing food-safety co-operation across the country’s seven emirates.
Gains were also made through exercising “control on food relocation, storage and retail facilities, as well as implementing awareness programmes for consumers about best practices in handling food,” said Majd Mohamed Al Herbawi, director of the food safety department at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
This “tangible increase” in the score also reflected improvements achieved through strengthened “channels of communication with consumers, regulators and stakeholders”.
Last January lawmakers accepted Federal law No 10 that set out to unify food safety across the UAE by introducing unified processes to monitor imported food, train industry employees and inspectors, and implement an advanced electronic inspection system.
The index itself, implemented in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, was also introduced as part of Abu Dhabi’s plan to “create a world-class sustainable system to enhance food safety at the national level”.