DUBAI // The emirate's top restaurants, hotels and grocery stores will be competing for trophies at the first Food Safety Awards to be held on January 9, 2013.
Dubai Municipality's Food Control department hopes competitive spirit will encourage these establishments to act proactively when it comes to food safety, and implement the latest safety techniques.
"This award, we think, is the first of its kind in the region. We aim to upgrade the levels of food safety in the establishments by creating an opportunity for healthy competition," said Khalid Mohammed Shareef, director of the department.
"This award will allow us to reward those who excel in safety standards, rather than just punish those who fall short, which will offer a better incentive to implement the best standards at their establishments."
There will be 38 different categories including best hotel, best restaurant, best catering service, best food import company, best cafeteria and best supermarket.
"We have already begun receiving nomination requests, and our team has begun assessing all the inspection reports to find the outstanding performers."
The judging panel will consist of 30 municipality officials from various backgrounds. They will assess each application, view presentations from nominees and conduct site visits and audits.
"This is a win-win situation for everyone," said Bashir Hassan Yousif, the department's food safety expert. "The municipality wins because establishments begin practicing correct safety procedures, the establishments win because they gain a good reputation, and the consumer gains because safety increases."
Each area inspector will recommend two or three establishments that they feel are excelling in their fields. The judges will then create a shortlist of five establishments in each category.
"Judging will be done in secret and nobody will know who the winner is until it is announced at the awards show," said Mr Yousif.
"This project is more about name and fame rather than name and shame. Though there is no monetary award, winning the trophy and certificate will result in financial benefits for the establishment from the notoriety alone."
Jihad Abou Khater, the manager of Al Koufa restaurant on December 2 Street, is excited about competing for the award but mindful of the implications.
"If you win this award then there is no room for regression," he said. "You have to keep improving and advancing since you now have a reputation you have to meet."
The first Food Safety Award will reflect efforts made between January and November 2012, and the next Food Safety Awards will be held in November 2013, and every November from then on to coincide with the annual International Food Safety Conference.