MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Food safety is a function of both provision and protection. What people eat must be inspected for hygiene from the source to every point in the supply chain to the point of sale.
Therefore, two key agencies – the Departments of Agriculture and Health — need to pull their heads together in enforcing a rigorous safety protocol to ensure pubic safety and consumer welfare all the time.
Quite thankfully, consumers are expected to reap the benefits of the law which aims to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country now that the implementing rules and regulations of the food- safety law (Republic Act 10618) has finally been approved.
“Filipinos will now enjoy the full-protection of the government from all foods which emanated from post-harvest facilities, slaughterhouses, dressing plants, fish ports, wet markets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments, water refilling stations, fast-food chains, and even street food carts,” AAMBIS-Owa Rep. Sharon Garin, author of RA 10618. The measure was passed by the 16th Congress and signed into law by President Aquino on Aug. 23, 2013.
Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala and Health Sec. Janette Garin approved the IRR in February. A ceremonial signing took place last February 20 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
The IRR ascribes specific responsibilities to food business operators of Philippines including the designation of a full-time food safety compliance officer knowledgeable in food safety standards required by law in every public or private company engaged in the food business.
Violators of the law who caused serious injury to a person shall pay a fine of not less than 200,000 pesos and suspension of authorization for one year. The offender shall also pay for the hospitalization and rehabilitation cost of the victim. If the offender does not have authorization, the imposable fine shall be doubled.
The IRR also provides clear delineation of regulatory functions between the DA and the DoH. DA will be responsible for regulating primary postharvest foods while the DoH would be responsible for regulating processed foods.
[pq]The DA and the DoH would also assist local government units in the enforcement of national safety standards and regulations for foods produced and marketed within their territorial jurisdictions.[/pq]
Regulation of foods produced but marketed outside the territorial jurisdiction of the LGUs is the responsibility of the DA and the DoH.
With full implementation of the law, the government is expected to establish a Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board to be co-chaired by DoH and DA Secretaries.
The members are to come from the Departments of Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, and the Leagues of Municipalities, Cities, and Provinces.
The Coordinating Board is tasked to review the programs on training, research, monitoring, and surveillance, and crisis planning management.
National Meat Inspection Services Chief Minda Manatan said the public can expect regular inspection of food businesses as inspectors now have defined skills on risk-based inspection and regularly evaluated to verify their continuing competence.
“Food testing carried out by laboratories accredited in accordance with international standards shall be in placed, too,” Manantan, who was part of the team which drafted the IRR, assured.
– DFF, Medical Observer