By: Kat Bitao

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with Temasek Foundation International (TFI), and Nanyang Polytechnic International (NYPi) held its Food Safety and Technology Training Program Media Event last October 24, 2017 at the Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Manila.

On the previous day, Food Safety and Technology Training Program Implementation Review was also conducted by the same agencies at the Crimson Hotel, Alabang, Muntinlupa City. (See Related Article: From Learning to Action: DOST ROs, PCIEERD, ITDI, FNRI, DOH, and FDA present their outcomes from Food Safety and Technology Training Program) The 76 participants, are the members of food safety teams from DOST Regional Offices, DOST Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), DOST Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Food Authority - Food Development Center (NFA-FDC), and Department of Agriculture - National Meat Inspection Service (DA-NMIS).

Through the initiative of DOST-CALABARZON’s Regional Director, Dr. Alexander R. Madrigal and the support of the whole DOST system as well as other government agencies, the Food Safety and Technology Training Program Media Event was deemed successful. One-hundred-thirty-four Participants were composed of the officials of the DOST system, national and local media practitioners, and the participants of the food safety training program held at Singapore last year.

Mr. Benedict Cheong, CEO of TFI, was present along with the Temasek’s Senior Director, Mr. Gerald Yeo, and Temasek’s Communication Head, Ms. Caroline Tan. NYPi CEO Mr. Foong Tze Foon, with Ms. Judy Emily, Program Manager of NYPi, and Dr. Gan Heng Hui, Senior Lecturer and Senior Specialist of School of Chemical and Life Sciences of Nanyang Polytechnic were there as well.

Sec. Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Secretary, gave a presentation about Technology Revolution for Food Safety. It covered the purpose of the seminar held in Singapore last year and how it helped the development of the department after the training program through the help of TFI and NYPi’s help and guidance.

In the same presentation, Sec. de la Peña gave the progress update; DOST Region 3 already adopted the Singapore-developed grading system for hawker’s center to street food vendors, DOST-PCIEERD is developing the new national program called, the Integrated Food Safety Program which consists of four components - Research & Development, Human Resource Development Program, Laboratory, and Technology Transfer, and DOST-CALABARZON is spearheading the Human Resource Development Program component, and together with UP Diliman, they are currently making harmonized training modules for food manufacturing which will be translated to Filipino and Visayan dialects to encompass the needs of all Filipino food manufacturers.

CEO Cheong delivered a speech with short video presentation about Temasek.

Dr. Anthony C. Sales, Regional Director of DOST Region 11, presented the Senior Level Outcomes of the training encompassing the issues and concerns of Food Safety in the country, and the Food Safety Act of 2013.

He also discussed DOST’s support for it as well as the department’s Food Safety Strategy Map which was created by the Food Safety Teams from DOST Regional Offices, Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) with the guidance from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Safe food for everyone, by everyone, through science, technology, and innovation” is DOST’s vision for the food safety with the mission “to harness science, technology, and innovation in ensuring safe food for everyone.” Which was discussed by Dr. Sales.

Dr. Sales also mentioned about the Integrated Food Safety Program Components which are Integrated Food Safety Research and Development Program; Enhancement of Testing Capabilities on Food Safety, Technology Transfer and Policy Advocacy Program on Food Safety, and Human Resource Development Program on Food Safety.

Lastly, he enumerated the DOST’s proposed projects namely the Organization of DOST Food Safety techno fora, Translation of Food Safety R & D Results and S & T Activities into policies, Food Safety Awareness Training for MSMEs, and Strengthening of DOST Advocacy on promotion of Food Safety.

This was followed by the presentation from Manager Level Outcomes by Atty. Anabelle C. Deveyra, Director of Visayas Cluster FDA. She discussed the commitments which are Training on Food Safety for Target Participants, Technical Assistance in the organization of Regional Food Safety Committee, and Establishment of a Quality Food Safety Program in Tacloban City.

The training outcomes include increased number of food establishments applying for license to operate with FDA, increased number of producers of local food delicacies seeking technical assistance for product registration, functional inter-agency collaboration on Food Safety Program - from farm to fork, proactive staunch of Food Business Operators in their shared responsibility under the Philippine Food Safety Law, consumer awareness resulted in reporting adverse reaction and fake/substandard food products, strengthened enforcement through local sanitary inspectors, and invitation from academe for input on Food Safety.

She also mentioned that Region 7 now has the Central Visayas Regional Food Safety Committee and its objectives are collaborating body for policy formulation on food safety, pooling of resources to advocate/promote food safety from farm to fork in the region, and technical expert providers.

For the last presentation, Ms. Diana Cecilla Z. Estrella, Science Research Specialist II of DOST Region 2 tackled the Specialist Level Outcomes. Ms. Estrella showed a video presentation about the accomplishment of Central Luzon Food Safety.

She also discussed the highlights of the outcomes which are the use of rapid tests methods in the laboratory, acquisition of new equipment in improving laboratory services relevant to food safety, expansion of scopes of laboratory tests, additional test services, quarterly cascading of Basic Food Hygiene and Good Manufacturing Practices conducted by laboratory personnel, and laboratory personnel involvement in food safety projects of the regional office.

A media conference, moderated by Dr. Richard P. Burgos, Director, DOST Science and Technology Information Institute, followed suit. The members of the panels were Dr. Alexander R. Madrigal, Mr. Benedict Cheong, Usec. Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano, Mr. Foong Tze Foon, Dr. Anthony C. Sales, and Ms. Dianna Cecilla Z. Estrella.

One of the questions raised during the presscon was about the possibilities of future projects within TFI, NYPi’ and DOST. To this, Mr. Cheong said that there will always be a possibility and he’d gladly work with DOST again.

A member of the media asked about the food safety of junk food sold outside the elementary schools, particularly the ones with foreign characters written on it. Atty. Deveyra took this chance to inform the members of the media that foods as such, especially without the logo of FDA are not guaranteed safe. Hence, the parents should warn their children not to buy these food products. Another inquiry was regarding the food catering services/business which lead again to the registration of these food businesses under FDA to assure its safety and quality.

Dr. Burgos ended the conference acknowledging the media practitioners saying that through the help of media, the citizens will be knowledgeable about food safety. It will help the people understand that this is an issue that we are all concerned. Lastly, he also reminded everyone that it is the responsibility of the individual on what they put in their mouth and stomach.