Food poisoning incident sparks food safety concerns in Caraga region
IN THE CARAGA REGION, the issue of food safety became an urgent concern after the Department of Health declared an outbreak of food poisoning in July 2015, during which 1,925 cases were reported due to poor hygiene in food preparation.
While actions have been taken to prevent a repeat of the incident, the food regulatory system focusing on food safety in the region leaves much to be desired, especially in the areas of meat production in abattoirs, and by small scale livestock producers.
The same is true at the commercial and household level in the region, where food safety as an issue should also be considered.
There are many incidents of food poisoning, and tracing the causes is a good idea in the aftermath; however, prevention is even more important. To address this concern, the United States’ Department of Agriculture-funded Philippine Cold Chain Project (PCCP), a program implemented by the Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development in the region, partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to implement a food safety campaign.
The program aims to contribute to the government’s target of strengthening the food safety regulatory system by promoting and supporting improved practices in food production, handling, and marketing to ultimately protect the health and general welfare of consumers.
Before the end of 2015, the DOST, PIA, and Winrock International signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during an event in Butuan City for the conduct of a public awareness campaign on food safety in the Caraga Region.
Signatories to the MOU included DOST Caraga Regional
Director Dominga D. Mallonga, PIA Caraga Regional Director Abner Caga, and Winrock-PCCP Chief of Party Daniel J. Gudahl.
Following the signing of the MOU, the campaign, dubbed “Food Safe Caraga,” was officially launched.
The Food Safe Caraga effort has two major components: a training program on meat handling for meat shop operators and workers, meat vendors, and the general public; and the Public Awareness Campaign, which aims to disseminate information about food safety and improve the food handling practices of residents in the Caraga Region.
Early in 2016, the Stakeholders Forum on Food Safety was held. About 100 participants coming from government and non-government agencies and small-scale food processors in the region attended the event.
The forum was able to bring up issues regarding the cleanliness of public markets and the possible interventions that science and technology (S&T) can offer.
Initial steps have already been made to fast-track the activities
DOST Secretary Fortunato De La Peña (center) together with DOST Caraga Regional Director Dominga D. Mallonga and Winrock-PCCP Chief of Party Daniel Gudahl during the launching of the Food Safe Caraga project in Butuan City.