The United Arab Emirates is hosting the first global meeting of the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) this week. The event follows a series of high-profile food safety crackdowns in the UAE.

INFOSAN, a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), involves 177 countries. The meeting this week is expected to bring together 200 food safety officials from across the globe.

The meeting comes right at the close of SIAL Middle East 2010, the first rendition of the “world’s largest food exhibitions.”

“INFOSAN will trigger a wave of global attention on the initiatives of Abu Dhabi and the UAE towards food safety standards on par with the best in the world,” reported AMEinfo, a Middle East business publication. “The meeting will also draw wider attention to the need for rapid information exchange on food-related risks and ways to counter them.”

The UAE’s food safety body, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), is hosting the meeting because of its growing reputation for progressive food safety system reforms.

“We at ADFCA are delighted to have been conferred the honor of organizing one of the defining events pertaining to global food safety,” Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, ADFCA director general told AME. “On the one hand, it gives us an opportunity to showcase the success of Abu Dhabi in its implementation of international best practices in food safety.  On the other, it brings us in touch with a host of experts and officials in food safety from across the globe, exposing us to a rich variety of knowledge and experience, which will inspire us to further improve our operations.”

According to AME, most of INFOSAN’s work has been conducted via phone and email, the meeting in Abu Dhabi will be the first face to face meeting for the larger initiative.

“Though launched in 2004 by the WHO in cooperation with FAO as a platform for sharing information on international food-borne threats and best practices in food safety, INFOSAN is holding its first full-fledged meeting involving all members.  Each country will be represented by its Emergency Contact Point,” explained Al Shairiqi.  “The meeting assumes special significance as food emergencies of an international nature are increasingly identified as a major new challenge to food safety authorities due to expanding global food trade.  In this context, the INFOSAN meeting is sure to mark a watershed in global food safety initiatives. It is our pride and pleasure to be not only a part of such an important event, but to host it in our capital.”