Davao City councilor eyes expanded food safety ordinance

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 December) — A Davao City councilor expressed optimism the city council would pass an expanded food safety ordinance in response to several food poisoning incidents this year.

In Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, Health committee chair Councilor Joselle D. Villafuerte said she wanted it done before the 17th City Council adjourns by June 2016.

She said the proposed legislation will adapt the provisions of Republic Act 10611, also known as “an act to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country to protect consumer health and facilitate market access of local foods and food products.”

“We want to pass such measure because we want to avoid food poisoning in the city,” she said.

Among the major food poisoning incidents in the city this year happened in a hotel, SMX Convention Center and a mall which contracted catering services for their functions.

In 2012, over a hundred students of the Ateneo de Davao University were rushed to different hospitals in the city after eating lunch packs served by a caterer in a school event.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine found out that staphylococcus bacteria caused the poisoning based on the rectal swabs of the victims.

“We need to focus more on catering services,” Villafuerte said.

She added majority floor leader Bernard Al-Ag has proposed a food safety measure that covers all food manufacturers and street food vendors but excludes caterers.

If approved, the proposed ordinance will require all food handlers to undergo food handling seminar by the City Health Office.

In July 2015, close to 2,000 victims in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Agusal del Sur were downed after eating expired durian and mangosteen candies manufactured by Wendy’s Delicious Durian based in Davao City.

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte then placed all food vendors under food safety training to teach them the proper way of making candies.

After the incident, durian candy vendors in the city complained of decreased sales, as local tourists would no longer buy candies for fear of food poisoning.

Section 14 of RA 10611 provides: “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.”

It also provides that 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.”

“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,” it adds. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)