ABU DHABI, 7th December, 2016 (WAM) -- During their participation at SIAL Middle East, the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), held an awards ceremony in recognition of the efforts of entities that implemented the "Weqaya Food Specifications" across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 2016.
The specifications stipulate strict standards for the amount of calories, salt, fat and sugar permitted in food, among other specifications.
Food items that follow the "Weqaya Food Specifications" are allowed to carry the Weqaya logo. The logo is a heart shape encircling the word Weqaya, signifying that simple lifestyle preventive measures such as choosing healthy food options can decrease the risk of health issues related to Cardio Vascular Diseases.
Eighteen entities and food outlets had previously joined the Weqaya healthy food program and were recognized for their efforts in 2013 and 2015. This year, an additional eleven entities and food outlets are being recognised for adopting the "Weqaya Food Specifications" into some of their menu items in 2016. Entities recognised this year include: the Crown Prince's Court (CPC), Etihad Catering, Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel, Emirates Palace, La Brioche, Jim's Kitchen Table, Hilton Al Ain, Chop't Salad, Soulfull, Shawarma Time, and Basiligo.
Dr. Rashid Mohammed Khalfan Al Shariqi, Director-General of ADFCA, said: "Food is a basic commodity that the Abu Dhabi government ensures is both accessible and safe for consumption at all times. Today, we have awarded a number of Abu Dhabi establishments for adhering to food safety standards with the aim of creating a competitive environment that encourages entities to work towards ensuring food safety in the Emirate."
"As part of HAAD's Weqaya Nutrition Program that aims to increase public awareness of healthy food options while working to improve the quality of food available in the Emirate, these awards come to recognize establishments for their notable contributions to fulfiling the goals of the program. Additionally, these awards commend these entities for their commitment to implementing ADFCA's requirements for food health and safety to ensure ADFCA fulfils its priority of delivering safe food to the community," he added.
Al Shariqi stressed that these awards are a steps towards encouraging all food outlets to adhere to food standards and play a role in safeguarding the food industry from negative practices that could lead to the delivery of unsafe foods to consumers in the Emirate. Al Shariqi reiterated that ADFCA supports all efforts geared towards ensuring food safety and a healthier society, which can only be achieved through the cooperation and commitment of ADFCA's strategic partners. He concluded that entities that were awarded today represent a role model that other entities should follow.
Professor Dr. Maha Taysir Barakat, Director-General of HAAD, said: "We at the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi are proud to see the results of the early adoption of the Weqaya Standards over the past year. We would like to recognise our partners for their commitment to this program, and their active role in supporting our efforts to make healthier food choices more available and accessible to each and every resident in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi."
Earlier this week, HAAD built on the Weqaya Program by announcing its adoption of the Abu Dhabi Certification Scheme for Pre-packaged food products in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC) and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA). In a preliminary pilot phase, the certification scheme will be implemented for Dairy Products and Bakery Products whereby all items that meet the outlined specifications will carry both the 'Weqaya' logo and 'Abu Dhabi Trustmark'.
"We will continue to work diligently with our partners to ensure that we are further expanding the healthy food offering in the Emirate, and making it more accessible to all. We are also calling on more food suppliers, food outlets and stores to join the Weqaya Program and help us ensure a 'healthier Abu Dhabi'," she added.