University of the Philippines Los Baños
Friday, 09 June 2017 16:26

UPLB holds National Food Safety Conference

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Four years after the Republic Act No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act (FSA) of 2013 was signed into law, UPLB convened experts and representatives of stakeholders to discuss readiness and capacity of the latter for its implementation.

This is through the first National Food Safety Conference entitled “Institutional capacity and readiness to implement the Philippine Food Safety Act” that was held on June 1 at the Obdulia Sison Hall, UPLB.

The Conference, which was spearheaded by the College of Economics and Management (CEM), revealed the initial findings of the research project “Analysis of S&T-related institutional capacity and readiness to effectively implement the Food Safety Act.”

According to Dr. Isabelita M. Pabuayon, project leader and dean of CEM, research results showed that readiness for FSA varied across commodities and stakeholders. It was highest for those who were producing export products and higher value commodities and for processors and accredited establishments. On the other hand, it was lowest for those who were in the buy-and-sell operations.

The research also revealed that educational attainment, membership in cooperatives and associations, and food safety training influenced the respondents’ capacity and readiness for the provisions of FSA.

The study looked at the overall readiness of commodity producers of poultry and livestock, crops, and fisheries and the local government units (LGUs) in different parts of the country.

The research project was carried out by a team of specialists from CEM, College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS), College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf). It was funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).

The Conference also tackled the initiatives and updates on food safety in the country in the context of trade and food security.

Amparo C. Ampil, chief of the Food Agriculture and Fisheries Division of the Department of Agriculture (DA), who represented Dr. Segfredo R. Serrano, undersecretary for policy and planning, discussed the implications of food safety on local and international trade in light of the ASEAN Economic Community. According to Ampil, improving food safety will enhance competitiveness of Philippine products and will enable to the country to compete at the global food market.

Timothy Moises C. Mendoza, Food Drug Regulation Officer of the Food and Drug Administration, talked about the key provisions and implementation of the FSA. Mendoza said that the FSA has already defined the specific tasks of different agencies involved in food safety.

Also present during the Conference were Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for community affairs, and Dr. Ernesto O. Brown, director of the Socio-Economics Research Division of DOST-PCAARRD.

Dr. Jamias, who delivered the welcome remarks on behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., said that the Conference is an opportunity for stakeholders and food agencies to refresh themselves on the key provisions of the FSA and to discuss food security in the context of investment for national development. She also emphasized the importance of collective action in fully realizing national food safety.

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The Conference also featured speakers from various UPLB colleges. Dr. Clarita Dagaas, Dr. Simplicio Medina, and Dr. Ma. Josie Sumague, all of CAFS, discussed food safety capacity in the livestock/poultry, crops, and fisheries sectors, respectively. Dr. Macrina Zafaralla of the Institute of Biological Sciences joined Dr. Sumague in discussing the fisheries sector.

Prof. Nelson Jose Vincent Querijero of CPAf and Dr. Gideon Carnaje of CEM, on the other hand, talked about food safety regulatory agencies/LGUs and food safety system, respectively.

Executive members and representatives of food safety agencies and LGUs attended the Conference. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)