I have been taught in my undergraduate course, BS HRA at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, to observe food safety at home and, possibly in a restaurant, in a future food service career.
Allow Tita S to summarize the highlights of food safety standards in the Philippines as per the 1987 Philippine constitution and Republic Act No. 10611, or simply called the Food Safety Act of 2013.
1. The 1987 Philippine constitution declares that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. It also provides that the State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products.1
Towards these ends, the State shall maintain a food safety regulatory system to ensure a high level of food safety, promote fair trade and advance the global competitiveness of Philippine foods and food products.1
2. Specifically, food business operators shall have the following responsibilities under the said law2:
(a) Food business operators shall be knowledgeable of the specific requirements of food law relevant to their activities in the food supply chain and the procedures adopted by relevant government agencies that implement the law. They shall adopt, apply and be well informed of codes and principles for good practices. Micro and small industries shall be assisted to facilitate their adoption of such practices.
(b) If a food business operator considers, or has reason to believe, that a food which it produced, processed, distributed or imported is not safe, or not in compliance with food safety requirements, it shall immediately initiate procedures to withdraw the food in question from the market and inform the regulatory authority.
(c) Food business operators shall allow inspection of their businesses and collaborate with the regulatory authorities on action taken to avoid risks posed by the food product/s which they have supplied.
(d) Where the unsafe or non-compliant food product may have reached the consumer, the operator shall effectively and accurately inform the consumers of the reason for the withdrawal, and if necessary, recall the same from the market.
3. Good hygiene must be consistently practiced by all food establishments to ensure that the conditions and measures necessary for the safety and suitability of food at all stages of food production-service.2
4. Hazard Analyses at Critical Control Points (HACCP) is an important science-based system to identify, evaluate, and control physical, biological and/or chemical hazards which are significant for food safety at critical points during a given stage in the food production-service chain.2
5. Risk analysis must be practiced, consisting of 3 steps – risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication, so there will be no likelihood of any adverse health effect, following exposure to a hazard.2
Risk assessment refers to the scientific evaluation of known and potential adverse health effects resulting from human exposure to biological, chemical and physical hazards.
Risk management refers to the process of weighing policy alternatives to accept, minimize, or reduce assessed risks, and if necessary, to select and implement appropriate prevention and control measures.
Risk communication refers to the interactive exchange of information and opinions during the course of risk analysis on the hazards and risks among risk assessors, risk managers, consumers, food and feed business operators, academia, and other stakeholders.
6. The Department of Local Government (DILG) and the local government units (LGUs), i.e., the barangay and town/city) shall have the following responsibilities under the said law2:
The DILG, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies, shall supervise the enforcement of food safety and sanitary rules and regulations as well as the inspection and compliance of business establishments and facilities within its territorial jurisdiction.
DILG shall also support the DOH and the DA in the collection and documentation of food-borne illness data, monitoring and research. The DILG and the LGUs shall participate in training programs, standards development and other food safety activities to be undertaken by the DA, the DOH and other concerned national agencies.
The LGUs shall have the principal responsibility for food safety in food businesses such as, but not limited to, activities in slaughterhouses, dressing plants, fish ports, wet markets, supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments and water refilling stations. The LGU shall also be responsible for street food sale, including ambulant vending.
Specifically, the LGUs shall be responsible for the enforcement of the “Code on Sanitation of the Philippines” (Presidential Decree No. 856, December 23, 1975), food safety standards and food safety regulations where food is produced, processed, prepared and/or sold in their territorial jurisdiction.
7. Regular inspection of food business operators shall be performed by the Food Safety Regulatory Agencies (FSRAs) or the control bodies delegated to conduct the activity. In addition, the following rules shall be followed in the conduct of inspections2:
(a) Inspection shall take into account compliance with mandatory food safety standards, the implementation of HACCP, good manufacturing practices and other requirements of regulations;
(b) The frequency of inspections shall be based on the assessment of risks. Establishments producing high risk foods or carrying out high risk activities shall be inspected more frequently;
(c) Inspectors shall have defined skills on risk-based inspection and shall be regularly evaluated based on suitable procedures to verify their continuing competence; and
(d) Appropriate procedures shall be in place to ensure that the results of inspection are interpreted in a uniform manner.
A food safety officer is appointed by a food safety regulatory agency or by the local government units (LGUs) in accordance with the appropriate civil service rules and regulations to inspect establishments, i.e., the examination of food, food production facilities or establishments, and the management and production systems of food businesses, including the examination of documents, finished product testing and registration, and of the origin and destination of production inputs and outputs to verify compliance with legal requirements and food safety regulations. Food safety standards must be observed.2
8. Food-borne illness monitoring, surveillance and research are mandated by this law. The FSRAs must identify hazards in the food supply chain and assess the levels of exposure to these hazards.2
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1Section 15 of Article II and Section 9 of Article XVI, 1987 Philippine constitution3
2Republic Act No. 10611 or Food Safety Act of 20134