Food poi­son­ing in­ci­dent sparks food safety con­cerns in Caraga re­gion

Agriculture - - Contents - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

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.

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