Abdulhadi Chalak, country manager, Boecker UAE tells us why hygiene and food safety should be on the top of the agenda for food and beverage businesses.
Tell us about the company.
Boecker is the Middle East’s largest public health company. It provides a holistic range of products and services in pest management, food safety, bio-security and health and safety across Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
Since its inception in 1994, Boecker has followed the highest international standards across its services. With continued development across the UAE, Boecker has been expanding its operations to Ajman and Fujairah in addition to its offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
How important is hygiene in the F&B market?
Food safety and hygiene in food facilities are of paramount importance. If caterers fail to provide a clean and hygienic environment for their customers, they risk damaging their brand and reputation. Hygiene, however, is more than just about cleaning surfaces; it should also address the threats that are not visible to the naked eye, like germs that could transfer from one area to another and put the health of employees and customers at risk. Therefore, particular care must be taken to minimise the risk of infection or bacterial intoxication within the food service system.
What is the standard that is set in the UAE for hygiene?
Hygiene is one of the main concerns in the UAE that is being strictly looked into by all entities. Government efforts and the elaboration of food safety programmes has resulted in rapid progress in global food security and hygiene over the past years, which has also contributed to the increased efficiency of food systems and improvements in the nutritional quality of food.
What consequences does an operator face if they do not match the kitchen safety and hygiene requirements?
The UAE law has imposed stringent standards and regulations for maintaining the safety and quality of food. This is to ensure the protection of public health and consumers. The law imposes strict penalties on those found to be endangering food safety across the UAE.
How does Boecker contribute in such situations?
Controlling hygiene is one of the main pillars of Boecker’s food safety line of business. We work closely with our clients for the implementation of food safety management systems such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and ISO 22000. Moreover, Boecker has launched its own quality certification, the Q-Platinum Award (QPA) which is directed to small and medium food establishments. The QPA programme complies with all local regulations and has secured the international assurance of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) in the UK, an accrediting body for food safety.
What services do you offer your clients?
As a leading pioneer dedicated to safeguarding communities against public health concerns, Boecker has developed an array of services and sustainable solutions related to pest management, food safety training and consultancy and bio-security services for B2B and B2C segments. We are continuously working on expanding our brands portfolio to cater to the different needs of our clients by providing them with more valuable services like mystery shopper and kitchen audits. Furthermore, we have added new training services related to occupational health and safety, first aid trainings and housekeeping courses.
Explain food safety.
Food safety is about proper handling, storing and preparing food to prevent infection. Preparation of food requires attention to raw materials, personal hygiene, kitchen hygiene and most importantly time and temperature control of all food-handling operations including cooking, cooling, and distribution. Ensuring safe food requires management and control of microbiological, chemical and physical hazards. In addition, cleaning and disinfection programmes must be established to ensure the correct hygiene standards are implemented and to reduce the risk of food borne diseases.
What challenges currently stand in the F&B market in terms of food safety?
The F&B sector faces diverse and very complex challenges in adopting food safety management systems. Some of these challenges are due to the lack of reliable resources and technical expertise, as well as cultural and language discrepancies among food handlers.
How can consumers ensure that the food at a venue is clean?
End users can check overall cleanliness of the premises, they can also notice personal hygiene of staff. Moreover, they can look out for any certification related to food safety management systems.
How many companies do you currently work with?
Boecker has developed a culture of partnership with all its stakeholders. For more than 24 years, we have been serving more than 30,000 clients all over the Middle East and GCC region across different industries.
How do you ensure your clients are following proper safety and hygiene standards?
We do regular unannounced audits, we put in place a detailed system of documentation and follow ups, provide staff trainings, regular management review meetings and reports and corrective actions are put in place. Our experts provide assistance according to our customers’ requirements while informing them about regulations. Moreover, Boecker QPATM has been tailored to small and medium food establishments as a simple, yet highly efficient, food safety management system that monitors practises, from receiving raw materials to delivering end products, and provides valuable information that confirms to owners that hygiene policies, standard operating procedures and best practises are being properly implemented.
What are Boecker’s plans for 2018?
We are proud to say that Boecker has won the Best Food Safety Training Provider – Middle East at the UAE Business Awards by MEA Markets. Our umbrella of services includes pest management, food safety and bio-security which make us stand out from the competition. Meanwhile, Boecker is working towards achieving its long-term strategy which is expanding our physical availability in the region, striving for business excellence, increasing mental availability, providing constant innovative solutions and developing our human resources.
Are you launching any new services?
Boecker is constantly working to develop products and services to reinforce its core message of providing sustainable solutions for hygiene that protect people’s lifestyles and keeps their businesses safe. We are excited to announce that we are enhancing our portfolio by adding a new service of improving indoor air quality through cutting edge-technology of air duct cleaning combined with a disinfection treatment that reduces pollutants like molds and other allergens.