Authorities warn that spreading rumours is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in jail
Abu Dhabi: Residents passing on unverified messages on food safety are inadvertently helping rumour mongers, a senior official has warned.
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) had to intervene twice this week to stem incorrect information being disseminated regarding safety of two food products.
The latest rumour allayed by the authority was about Doux, a French frozen chicken brand, which was incorrectly alleged as non-halal food, Mohammad Jalal Al Raisi, Director of Communication and Community Affairs at ADFCA, said in an interview.
As Gulf News reported on Monday, the authority had rejected the unfounded information that suggested that Syrian meat imported to Abu Dhabi had carcinogens.
He appreciated the efforts by residents who contacted the authority about the incorrect information.
“Otherwise you also become a part of the rumour mill. When you check with us, we get a chance to allay the unnecessary fears,” Al Raisi said.
Abu Dhabi Police had earlier said spreading rumours or fake news via smartphone or social media was a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in jail.
The official said a basic understanding of the UAE’s food safety mechanism will help residents reject certain rumours even without checking with authorities.
As most of the food in the UAE is imported from abroad, it is relevant that the UAE follows the Codexalimentarius — a mechanism of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice that contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of international food trade. “This means no harmful food can enter the UAE market by breaking this mechanism.”
A second important aspect is the UAE’s strict mechanism that rejects non-halal foods, especially those having the contents of pork and alcohol.
“If you hear something related to non-halal, just understand that it is rumour only,” Al Raisi said.
The third important mechanism is the collaboration with international food safety networks. All the food safety authorities in the UAE, including ADFCA, have links with networks such as the International Food Safety Authorities Network (Infosan), a joint initiative between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. The moment a food safety issue breaks out anywhere in the world, the UAE authorities are immediately alerted by this network and remedial steps are taken to prevent the entry of contaminated food, he said.
Originally published on http://gulfnews.com