x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

FNC to discuss federal food-control authority following meat scandal

The FNC meets tomorrow to discuss topics ranging from the need for a federal food-control authority to the UAE's plastic bag campaign.

FNC member Ali Eissa Khalfan Al Nuaimi, Ajman, speaking at the council meeting. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National
FNC member Ali Eissa Khalfan Al Nuaimi, Ajman, speaking at the council meeting. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National

ABU DHABI // The recent meat scandal in Europe has proved the need for a federal food-control authority, the Minister of Environment and Water will be told today.

At today’s session of the FNC, Ahmed Al Shamsi (Ajman) will tell Dr Rashid bin Fahad that among the responsibilities of such a body would be ensuring food was Sharia-compliant.

“The country imports burgers and beef,” Mr Al Shamsi said. “Labs in England discovered that some of their beef was made up of pigs, horses and donkeys. We need a food authority to monitor this.”

He said even chocolate could contain non-halal ingredients that people would not be aware of.

The authority should also oversee food quality, ensuring store shelves were clear of any harmful, contaminated or expired food, Mr Al Shamsi said.

Dr bin Fahad will be told by Ali Al Nuaimi, also from Ajman, that a nationwide drive to end the use of plastic bags has so far failed.

Mr Al Nuaimi said the bags were still being used three years after the campaign was launched, and more needed to be done to warn the public of the harm they cause to humans, animals and the environment.

Although nine out of 10 (89 per cent) of 870 people surveyed by the ministry were aware of the campaign, more than half (55 per cent) did not use more environmentally friendly shopping bags.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) supported a fee on plastic bags.

Mr Al Nuaimi said the results showed “there are shortfalls in carrying out this campaign and it was unable to achieve its goals”.

He said the Government should either ban them or charge people to use them.

Research prepared by the council found plastic bags had led to half of the camel deaths in the UAE, Mr Al Nuaimi said.

He said the bags also suffocated 200 different kinds of sea creatures and caused hundreds of illnesses in humans – including liver and lung diseases from chemicals that can dissolve in food.

“They are slow to decompose. They need 1,000 years to dissolve into the dirt,which leads it to cause a large amount of illnesses including 400 dangerous ones.”

Official statistics reveal that the UAE uses 11.6 billion bags a year, accounting for 10.9 per cent of household waste, Mr Al Nuaimi said.

He will also ask the minister how the ministry is encouraging fishing as a profession.

Musabah Al Ketbi (Sharjah) wants to ask Dr bin Fahad about setting up a federal fund to support livestock fodder prices.

Mr Al Nuaimi will question the Minister of Education, Humaid Al Qattami, on whether children’s schoolbags are too heavy.

Some schools do not allow school bags with wheels, he said.

“I have noticed that bags are heavier than what pupils should be carrying,” Mr Al Nuaimi said. “The heavy weight of the bag can have negative effects on spinal cord and distort the body figure.”

The problem was greatest in primary schools, he said, because young children’s spines were still developing.

“Some [schools] ask parents not to let their children carry bags with wheels, so there are no scratches on the ground,” Mr Al Nuaimi said.

“If the bag is heavy it would cause children pain. What’s more important, the floor or children’s health?”

The open session will start at 9am at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi.