MANILA, Philippines – How often do you read what’s written on the packaging of the food you purchase?
“Don’t just buy, you should read well,” said Dr Maria Victoria Pinion of the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at a Food Safety Forum held July 25 in Pasay City.
The forum was part of the 2014 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) – the country’s biggest gathering of scientists, researchers, inventors, industry players, academics, students, and science and technology enthusiasts.
Experts from the government, the private sector, non-government organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders shared their experiences, innovations, and solutions for food safety.
Making sure food is safe is critical to our future.
A growing world population and a voracious global appetite for food have made food safety a hot topic for many policy makers and world leaders.
On a practical level, securing the safety of food is the prime responsibility of the food manufacturer since they are the ones who produce the food.
Food safety covers the handling, storing, and preparing of food, including the prevention of infection, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This also helps in ensuring that meals are nutritious.
The improper handling, preparation, and storage of food may result in foodborne diseases.
This can happen in processing and retail establishments, as well as in at home, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The food safety system needs to be improved – food production, processing, packing, distribution/transportation, storage and preparation.
“The Philippines meets food safety standards compared to other ASEAN members,” said Pinion. She recommended, however, for food manufacturers to continuously strengthen the quality of the food they produce.
As a result of eating unsafe food, millions of people fall ill every year. Many of them end up dead.
This can lead to serious outbreaks of foodborne diseases that have been documented in every continent in the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.
The WHO reported that foodborne diseases are not limited to developing countries. It is estimated that in the United States, foodborne diseases result in 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year.
President Benigno Aquino III singed Republic Act No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act into law in 2013. The law aims to strengthen the country’s food safety regulatory system to protect consumer health and to facilitate the market access of local foods and food products.
The NSTW is organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and will run up until Monday, July 28, at the SMX convention center, Pasay City. – Rappler.com
San Sel & Tep Chansophea are Rappler interns. They study Media Management at the Department of Media and Communication of Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.