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Author: Francisco D. Collado Jr. - DOST3 -Sr.SRS /RGIA Coordinator

As part of its food safety advocacy program, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Tarlac provincial office has teamed up with the Tarlac State University (TSU) for the implementation of a project entitled Establishment of Model Food Safety Control System (FSCS) for Food Service Operators and Ambulant Street-Food Vendors of Tarlac City.

            Mrs. Karen Danez, DOST Tarlac provincial director said the project, which is funded under its regional Grant-In-Aid program, is intended to develop a protocol for food service establishments, canteen operators, and street/ambulant vendors in Tarlac City. “Through this project, we identified gaps and procedural lapses in food safety regulations implemented by the city. For example, we found out that compliance to food safety standards especially by ambulant vendors is low owing to the lack of specific guidelines. We hope to present our findings to the local government and recommend for the formulation of a comprehensive and risk-based policies to strengthen the food safety program of the City. Hopefully, this would also be adopted provincewide,” Mrs, Danez added.

Initially, the project involved the training of food inspectors and laboratory staff on food safety protocols and Good Manufacturing Practices. Next came the onsite inspection of food establishments and collection of food products samples for testing of five pathogens, namely, coliform, e.coli, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, and aerobic microorganism which are commonly found in contaminated food.

            This initiative is groundbreaking in the country since this is the first food safety project aimed at the informal sector of street vendors to use the Risk-based Approach. Earlier versions of these food safety projects were implemented in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga and Diosdado Macapagal Government Center in the same city. These were all adopted and patterned from the Singapore Hawkers Market model which was also pioneered by the Central Luzon Food Safety Team at the Central Luzon State University in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and in Baler, Aurora in 2017.

            Part of the deliverables under the TSU-DOST-Tarlac City improved project is the publication of a Safe Food Digest intended as a self-learning tool especially for ambulant food vendors. Copies of the digest as well as posters were distributed in all seven provinces in the region.

            Although a necessity for an active life, food can also cause sickness when prepared improperly. The most serious of cases may even cause death. DOST reaffirms its commitment to push its advocacy on food safety to prevent food related adverse events from happening.

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