Monday, July 20, 2015

Food Safety Act of 2013, R.A. 10611

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It is about time the government takes drastic food safety vigilance measures to protect the public in the wake of food poisoning cases happening in various parts of the country, a number of socio-civic groups said yesterday.

Rene Pineda, president of the Consumer Rights for Safe Food (CRSF), asked concerned government agencies to fully enforce Republic Act 10611 and its recently promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) to uphold the safety and welfare of the consuming public.

Also known as the Food Safety Act of 2013, R.A. 10611, among other measures, aims to “establish policies and programs for addressing food safety hazards and developing appropriate standards and control measures.”

“The rise in food poisoning cases affecting young children, the most vulnerable population group, warrants the speedy implementation of R.A. 10611, including the establishment of the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board, which is tasked to prepare crisis management plan and lead food control activities,” he added.

For his part, toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, president of the Pesticide Action Network – Philippines underscored the need for “vigorous public education, multi-sectoral dialogues on food safety issues, and the conduct of continuing monitoring programs for food manufacturers and food business operators” to prevent food poisoning incidents.

Quezon City-based chemical safety and environmental group EcoWaste Coalition insisted immediate steps that should be carried out to promote food safety vigilance among government, business, and consumer stakeholders.

“We suggest that all flag-raising ceremonies across the country every Monday be used by government and school authorities to drum up personal and collective consciousness and action towards food safety. It’s a good platform to disseminate policies and measures to prevent food poisoning,” Aileen Lucero of EcoWaste stated.

Lucero said that at the soonest time possible government officials from Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin down to local mayors should go down the streets and conduct on-the-spot food safety inspections as seeing them in public would assure the people that steps are being done to guarantee public access to safe food.

“The government should also ensure that no stone is left unturned to resolve recent food poisoning cases and that the culprits be duly penalized,” Lucero added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged local health departments to organize food safety seminars targeting all food business operators, including cottage food industries, school canteens, restaurants and street vendors to reiterate safe and hygienic food manufacturing and handling practices,” she added.

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