Training Highlights Role of Food Safety Officers

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ATI regional food safety focal persons visit the Legazpi City Abattoir to observe regulatory measures on meat products. (photo by Priscilla Paningbatan)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay—To further the implementation of the Food Safety Act of 2013, food safety officers of the Agricultural Training Institute convened for the training of trainers (TOT) on Food Safety Regulations.

Focal persons on food safety and the high value crops development program (HVCDP) from the ATI’s Regional Training Centers participated in this five-day TOT.

Through the activity, the participants gained a common understanding on the provisions of Republic Act 10611 that aims to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country. Specifically, they learned the process of its implementation as they reviewed its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). They also identified the scope and delineation of tasks among the Food Safety Regulatory Agencies (FSRAs).

Pedro Dumaraos, Jr., food safety focal person from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Regulations of the Department of Agriculture (DA), highlighted the essential role of food safety regulators in ensuring safe food consumption, especially as it “remains to be a big and continuing challenge in the Philippines.”

“It is high time that we enhance our knowledge and awareness on food safety in the regulatory function,” he said.

Dumaraos then shared the specific responsibilities of the Food Safety Focal Group, Food Safety Board, and FSRAs. He also led the discussion about the IRR and its related standards.

Moreover, speakers from different FSRAs presented their agency’s respective functions in relation to food safety. These FSRAs include the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Plant Industry, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, National Food Authority-Food Development Center, National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Philippine Coconut Authority, Sugar Regulatory Association, among others.

The participants also saw actual meat inspection and processing activities as they toured around the Legazpi City Abattoir, an accredited slaughter house of the NMIS in Region V.

ATI Region V Center Director Elsa Parot congratulated the participants for completing the training program in her message during the closing ceremony. She also reiterated the importance of food safety regulations because “everything starts from what we eat.”

With the ATI as the lead agency in developing and implementing training programs on food safety, the trained food safety focal persons are expected to impart their knowledge to food business operators, food handlers, and local government units.

The activity was held last March 25-29 in this city. A second TOT, intended for DA regional food safety focal persons, is scheduled on May 20-24 in Davao City.

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