Consumer protection is a top priority in the UAE, especially concerning food safety. The UAE has established a comprehensive legal framework to safeguard consumers’ health and well-being, with Federal Law No. 10/2015 on Food Safety and Cabinet Decision No. 26/2017 providing the regulatory backbone.

These laws institute stringent measures to ensure food products meet the highest safety and quality standards.

In this article, we will discuss the different aspects of consumer protection in the UAE, emphasizing food safety, compliance and enforcement measures, as well as the penalties for those who violate these regulations.

Federal Law No. 10/2015 on Food Safety

Federal Law No. 10/2015 is the cornerstone of food safety regulations in the UAE. It includes various aspects of food safety, including definitions, registration fundamentals, labelling criteria, and compliance procedures. Here are the essential aspects of food safety and compliance under this law:

Food Safety and Compliance

  1. Ensuring Food Safety: The law emphasizes the importance of guaranteeing that food does not cause any health hazards when traded or consumed as intended. It was established to ensure the safety of food products throughout the entire supply chain.
  1. Registration Mandate: Establishments engaged in food manufacturing, production, and import must register their products before they enter the market. This registration process involves scrutiny to verify that food items align with UAE standards.
  1. Labelling Rules: All food products must have clear and precise labelling in Arabic. This includes providing nutritional information, indicating the country of origin, and displaying any health claims. The law expressly prohibits misleading or false labelling.
  1. Feed Safety: Federal Law No. 10/2015 also defines the safety of animal feed to ensure that there is no compromise on the health of both animals and humans.

Enforcement Measures

Regulatory Supervision: To maintain food safety standards, mandatory regulatory actions are taken at every stage of the food supply chain. These actions include inspections, audits, and continuous monitoring to ensure compliance with health and quality prerequisites, as well as proper labelling practices.

Product Confiscation: Competent authorities are authorized to confiscate food or feed that does not adhere to the law’s provisions. These confiscated products are held until compliance with regulations is verified.

Risk Identification and Assessment: The law is designed to identify and assess risks associated with food products. Scientific methods are used and describe potential risk sources, evaluate experience levels, and assess risks to consumer health.

Under Article 14 of Federal Law No. 10/2015, penalties for violators are outlined as follows:

  1. Imprisonment and Fines for Trading in Unsafe Food: Anyone found trading in adulterated, harmful, or spoiled food at any stage of the food supply chain may face imprisonment for a minimum of three months and a fine ranging from AED 100,000 to AED 2,000,000 or both.
  1. Penalties for Trading in Non-Compliant Materials: Trading, without a license, in food containing pork, its derivatives, products, alcohol, or materials that violate Islamic Sharia’a provisions may result in imprisonment for a minimum of one month and a fine between AED 50,000 and AED 500,000, or both.
  1. Penalties for Misrepresentation: Individuals involved in trading, promoting, contributing, or publishing false descriptions of any food to deceive consumers may be fined between AED 10,000 and AED 100,000.
  1. Consequences of Disposing of Retained Food: Disposing of food or feed that has been retained under the law’s provisions may lead to imprisonment for a minimum of three months and a maximum of two years, along with a fine ranging from AED 100,000 to AED 300,000, or both.
  1. Fines for Violations of Technical Regulations: Trading in food or feed that contravenes technical regulations developed to enforce Federal Law No. 10/2015 may result in fines ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 100,000.
  1. Attempted Violations: Attempting to commit any of the crimes punishable under this law will also incur the penalty associated with the completed offence.
  1. Penalties for Other Violations: Any violation of provisions not covered by the aforementioned penalties may result in a fine of no less than AED 10,000. In cases of repeated violations, the penalty imposed will be doubled.

Cabinet Decision No. 26/2017 on Implementing Regulation

Cabinet Decision No. 26/2017 supplements Federal Law No. 10/2015 by providing further guidance on its implementation. It delineates administrative measures and penalties for those infringing upon food safety regulations in the UAE.

Administrative Measures

  1. Warnings: Minor violations of food safety regulations may warrant warnings, alerting entities or individuals to promptly rectify issues and achieve compliance.
  1. Temporary Closure: Serious violations can lead to the temporary closure of entities for up to three months. During this period, entities must address violations and implement corrective measures. In some cases, entities may resume operations before the end of the three-month closure, pending compliance.
  1. Permanent Closure: Entities with persistent violations after temporary closure may face permanent closure. This entails the permanent cessation of food-related operations, and licenses may be revoked.

Establishments and individuals subject to penalties can appeal these decisions within a specified time frame, allowing them to present their case and contest the penalties imposed.

In conclusion, by adhering to these regulations, the UAE government aims to uphold the highest standards of food safety and safeguard the health and well-being of its residents and citizens.

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