Food Safety in Saudi Arabia: A Public Health Priority

Author(s): Ali Saad R. Alsubaie* and Mahmoud Mohamed Berekaa

Food safety is a very important issue, and many challenges remain. Protecting people from foodborne illness, quality control issues and food fraud is an ongoing journey and critical to the health and wellbeing of all of us. Unsafe foods containing pathogenic microorganisms and toxic chemicals are responsible for several diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancer. Rapid rise in foodborne diseases is posing serious threats to public health and economy worldwide. Food safety is considered as one of the major pillars for sustainable public health and economic development. Kingdom Saudi Arabia (KSA) is one of the largest countries with the highest economy in the Middle East region occupied by approximately thirty million citizens. Due to limited agricultural productivity, about 80% of its food demand is met through import from other countries, which might contribute to great challenge to national/individual economy, food safety, nutrition and public health. In general, food safety in KSA faces many issues including weakness in the application of risk analysis, lack of academic programs, lack of scientific organizations, shortage of specialized training programs, and limited numbers of food safety science programs in KSA. This review is aimed at highlighting the field of food safety with regards to current situations, policies, practices, and academic education. Also, it addresses weaknesses, strengths, challenges, and opportunities of food safety in KSA. Efforts to improve the food safety system and building its capacity require high-quality education, trainings programs and active research at universities and allied institutions. This study is expected to provide guidelines to policy makers for tackling the challenges of food safety in KSA and to prompt academic institutions and scientists to support food safety programs, education, and research


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