Food-tracking mechanism made mandatory
MANILA, Philippines–Food business operators in the country will be required to establish a mechanism that would track and trace food products from the dinner table to the source to help boost the safety of Filipino consumers, especially in cases of product recalls and contamination.
The establishment of such a system was made mandatory with the recent signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
In a joint press conference last week, Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said that under the IRR, food business operators will be required to establish a traceability system for food, food-producing plants and animals and other inputs in the primary and post-harvest stages of the food chain.
“This system will indicate at the minimum where the item immediately came from and where it will immediately proceed,” said Garin, noting that such mechanism will be based on principles and guidelines of the Codex and other international bodies.
She said this traceability system would be most helpful in time of product recalls. “The pullout will be fast because we will know where these items were distributed and where they came from,” Garin told reporters.
“The IRR aims to protect the consumer from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated food and enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system,” she said.
The IRR also established the Food Safety Regulation Coordination Board, which shall be chaired by the DOH secretary and cochaired by the DA secretary.
Among the tasks of the board is to assess the overlapping functions of concerned agencies considering consumer health, protection and capability and effectiveness in implementing the rules of the Food Safety Act, said the health official.
Under the IRR, the DA has been designated to oversee all fresh produce or food obtained from primary production while the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration has been tasked to supervise all processed food, whether prepackaged or not.
The DOH and the DA, in consultation with the Bureau of Customs, shall also develop a manual of procedures for the inspection of and clearance procedures for imported and exported food shipments.
When implemented properly, the Food Safety Act will create and enhance food standards that would facilitate Philippine food exports to other countries, help create a unique Philippine food brand and allow its greater acceptance into new international markets, Garin said.
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