In a bid to ensure innovations on food safety in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology bared its five-year roadmap for the sector.
DOST Sec. Fortunato T. de la Peña and undersecretaries Rowena Cristina Guevara and Sancho Mabborang led the unveiling of the 2022-2028 Food Safety Roadmap that will chart the course of research and development on production, postharvest, processing, distribution, and consumption of food.
The roadmap was unveiled on Oct. 29 through a virtual presser titled “Pagkaingat: DOST Food Safety Innovations, Ligtas na pagkain, okay sa kalusuga’t kabuhayan natin!”
The DOST said assurance of access to safe food is crucial in the protection of human life and promotion of good health, which is a shared responsibility of all the stakeholders in the food chain.
The DOST Food Safety roadmap is a comprehensive program that consists of four program areas led by the following agencies: Research and Development – DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development; Science and Technology Services – Food and Nutrition Research Institute; Human Resource Development – DOST-Calabarzon; and Knowledge/Technology Transfer and Policy Advocacy – DOST-Technology Application and Promotion Institute, and DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines, respectively.
The DOST Food Safety Initiatives, testimonials on the outcome/impact of DOST Food Safety initiatives, and the official launching of the DOST Food Safety Roadmap 2022-2028 that will respond to the identified problems and areas of concerns in relation to food and consumer safety were also presented during the virtual presser hosted by Director Richard P. Burgos of the Science and Technology Information Institute.
In 2013, Republic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 was enacted to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country. In support, a string of strategic planning activities from 2016 to 2017 weaved the DOST Integrated Food Safety Program.
These activities were participated by representatives from the DOST councils, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Industrial Technology Development Institute, Technology Application and Promotion Institute, DOST regional offices, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and the academe.
With the implementation of the DOST Integrated Food Safety Program, there has been an increased compliance and implementation of food safety standards and regulations.
Over 648 Food MSMEs were assisted and are now complying with food safety standards with over 180 MSMEs which acquired FDA license to operate.
Further, a total of 227 DOST Food Safety Team members and laboratory analysts were trained to ensure continuous delivery of food safety assistance and interventions to food industry players.
These are on top of the many R&D outputs such as food safety risk profiles, grading system tools for food establishments, total diet study protocols, and food safety guidelines manual for food service sector.
DOST also developed unified food safety modules which were deployed to all DOST regions, as well as enhanced food safety testing services which were integrated and promoted under the OneLab network.
According to the DOH, 1.8 million people worldwide had been estimated to die each year as a result of diarrheal diseases, most of which can be attributed to contaminated food or water.
These diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe food are considered as one of the 10 leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the country, as stated in the 2019-2023 Food and Water-Borne Disease Prevention and Control Program Strategic Plan.
DOST continually creates, develops, and implements food safety plans and programs as it plays a crucial role in prevention of endangering consumers, harming businesses, and most importantly, the stoppage of food-borne illness outbreaks that can affect the overall well-being of consumers and its impacts to the economy. – Press release