Cagayan de Oro City – Carrying the theme: “Pagkaing Ligtas at Sapat, Tungkulin at Karapatan ng Lahat”, a Food Safety Road Show was staged on November 9, 2017, here in the city, which highlighted how one’s behavior and activities contribute to the safety of food and how one can avoid potential health hazards.
Leading the information drive which focused on the Food Safety Act of 2013 is the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Regulations (OASR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) headed by Atty. Hansel O. Didulo. It was participated in by the different food safety regulatory agencies (FSRAs), food business operators (FBOs), agricultural and fishery councils (AFCs), provincial, city and municipal local government units, and farmers.
“The main purpose of the law is to protect the consumers of food-borne and water-borne illnesses, and unsanitary, unwholesome or adulterated foods,” said ASec. Didulo while also encouraging the participants to bank on this law, considering that it has earned support from the government with its enactment.
Provided in the law, he added, that it aims to enhance industry and consumer confidence on food regulatory system and to achieve economic growth and development by promoting fair trade practices, at the same time.
Stakeholders’ role towards food safety
With the purpose of bringing the Act down to the grassroots level, the road show centered its discussion on the law’s salient features, stating that national government agencies involved include DA for primary food and the Department of Health (DOH) for processed foods or pre-packaged foods.
Pedro R. Dumaraos, Jr., Ph.D., food safety coordinator of OASR, likewise highlighted the principal responsibility of the LGUs on food safety. “They shall be responsible for the implementation of the food safety requirements of foods produced within their areas of jurisdiction and that they shall be guided by national regulations,” he said.
Meanwhile, he reported that FSRAs shall support the Department of Interior and Local Government and LGUs in executing its food safety functions and urge them to use the food safety regulations and standards.
FSRAs under DA include the Bureau of Animal Industry, National Meat Inspection Service, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration and the National Food Authority.
On the other hand, the FBOs, AFCs, LGUs and the farmers, who are the frontlines in guaranteeing food safety, were introduced to the codes of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP) and Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP). These are established government policies and programs for addressing food safety hazards.
Initiatives on Food Safety in R-10
At the regional level, Juliet B. Araos, chief of the Regulatory Division of DA-Regional Field Office 10 reported updates before the body on the initiatives that the region has undertaken relative to food safety.
She said the agency serves as a member of the Regional Inter-Agency Committee on Environment and Health headed by DOH and has participated in the drafting of the proposed creation of the Regional Food Safety Regulatory Coordinating Board.
“We saw it as a very important entry point for different agencies to cascade food safety concerns at the local level and to have a smooth engagement with the LGUs thru the Regional Development Council,” Araos explained.
In addition, she conveyed that the region has intensified briefings for certification of farms, resulting to 14 GAP and 3 organic certified farms while other farms have on-going applications.
Despite the strides, Araos added that the region will continue to strengthen its mechanisms to stress food safety. It will collectively do so through the conduct of orientations on the said law, creation of modules, formation of a quick response team, capability building for implementers, among other activities.
With the affair at hand, the DA eyes that all involved in the food safety systems, whether from the government or the private sector, will help in the enhancement of regulatory services in adherence to the Act to ensure not only affordable and available food for all, but safety and quality food. #
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