Figure 1. Christian Grace B. Estimada (FDA Regulation Officer III), Maria Cricelle R, Yambao (FDA Regulation Officer II) and Dr. Lydia Manguiat (Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Division of DOST-IVA) awards the certificate of completion to the representatives of the Central Luzon Food Safety Team (CLFST) who successfully completed the two-day seminar-orientation on FDA (AO 153 s.2004), LGU Inspection (PD 856) and Auditing last 10-11 April at Hotel Jen, Pasay City.
News reports of foodborne illnesses like food poisoning and diarrhea incidents associated with water and foodborne contaminants are not new. Diseases caused by bacteria, virus, parasites and chemical substances that could be present in any contaminated food or water are common. More often than not, one of the major contributing factor for this is poor sanitation and improper food handling and preparation. Such cases are easily preventable if only people are more aware of the importance of practising food safety.
This is precisely what Republic Act No. 10611: An Act to Strengthen the Food Safety Regulatory System in the Country to Protect Consumer Health and Facilitate Market Access of Local Foods and Food Products, and for Other Purposes, also known as the Food Safety Act of 2013 aims to address. In Region III, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) though the initiative of its Regional Director, Dr. Julius Caesar V. Sicat, established the Central Luzon Food Safety Team (CLFST) composed of technical personnel from DOST and different State Universities and Colleges to operationalize said law. To capaciatte them for their tasks, the members of the team were sent to Nanyang Polytechnic – Singapore to undergo training on different aspects of implementing a food safety program which they patterned after Singapore’s Points Demerit System or PDS.
Singapore is famous for its thriving food service industry which cater to local and foreign tourists alike and uses the PDS approach in meeting out suspension and even cancellation of licenses for any food hygiene infringement for all food hawkers and merchants.
Since its establishment in 2017, CLFST has collaborated with local government units to implement food safety programs specific to a sector’s particular needs. Three of this programs has already been completed namely, establishment of a pilot model for ambulant vendors and canteen concessionaires of CLSU; food safety program for street vendors of City of San Fernando, Pampanga; and establishment of food safety control system (FSCS) model for food service operators in Baler, Aurora. A fourth project entitled establishment of food safety control system (FSCS) model for food service operators and ambulant vendors of Tarlac City is currently on going. DR. Sicat expressed optimism that these initiatives will be replicated in Bataan, Bulacan and Zambales and so advocacy activities to not just promote but to make food safety awareness a way of life in communities is continuously pursued. Health is wealth and in food safety, a little goes a long way in preventing illnesses.
Figure 2. Actual photodocumentation of project implementation conducted by the CLFST members in the respected provinces of Central Luzon.
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