Press Release
July 21, 2015


As reports of food poisoning in different provinces continue to surface, Sen. Grace Poe urged local government units to improve their food safety measures and ensure that food business operators in their areas are complying with the Food Safety Act.

"It is disconcerting to know that despite having the Food Safety Act in place, we have food poisoning incidents affecting thousands, most of them children," Poe said.

She said Republic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 was meant to enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system, but recent incidents are showing the opposite result.

Last month, 39 children and a teacher in Negros Occidental were hospitalized after eating a local delicacy called bichokoy; last week, nearly 2,000 kids in Surigao del Sur fell ill after eating Durian candy while 9 students suffered food poisoning in Quezon City from macapuno candies. An additional 57 people fell ill in Sultan Kudarat after eating okoy.

"This is disturbing. Food poisoning leads to loss of income to wage-earners, while students are unable to go to school," Poe said. She noted that the Food Safety Act requires all food business operators to designate a food safety compliance officer, but it is unclear whether LGUs are able to thoroughly monitor compliance. LGUs are also mandated to enforce food safety regulations within their territorial jurisdiction, covering even street food and ambulant vendors.

"There are so many food businesses all over the country. Local authorities and the relevant national agencies should take steps to ensure that those who are in the food business are not neglecting public safety and sanitation standards. If more reports of food poisoning surface, they could harm legitimate food businesses that are complying with the requirements of the law," Poe said.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are 2,410 registered food manufacturers and 2,222 food distributors in the Philippines. The Department of Interior and Local Government is tasked to "supervise the enforcement of food safety and sanitary rules and regulations, as well as the inspection and compliance of business establishments."

The Department of Agriculture is in charge of food safety during the production and post-harvest stages of the food supply chain; the Department of Health is responsible for the safety of processed and prepackaged foods, including those locally produced or imported under this category. According to the DA, food exports account for 11 to 12 percent of the country's total export value.

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