LGUs should lead drive vs. food poisoning

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LGUs should lead drive vs. food poisoning

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jayby Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco

It is high time that local government units act swiftly to strictly enforce the laws particularly on food safety and sanitation in the wake of rampant food poisoning that has caused the lives of innocent customers.

Local governments are specifically mandated to ensure that food that is consumed by the general public are safe and healthy.

Article V, Section 15(c) of R.A. No. 10611 provides that the local government units (LGUs) shall be responsible for food safety in food business such as, but not limited to, activities in slaughterhouses, dressing plants, fish ports, wet markets, supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments and water refilling stations.

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LGUs shall also be responsible for street food sale, including ambulant vending.

We already have enough laws designed to protect the safety of consumers.

Article V, Section 13 of Republic Act No. 10611, otherwise known as the “Food Safety Act of 2013” provides that food business operators shall ensure that food satisfies the requirements of food law relevant to their activities in the food supply chain and that control systems are in place to prevent, eliminate or reduce risks to consumers;

Article V, Section 19(a) of R.A. No. 10611 provides that the LGUs shall be responsible for the enforcement of Presidential Decree No. 856, otherwise known as the “Code on Sanitation of the Philippines,” food safety standards and food safety regulations where food is produced, processed, prepared and/or sold in their territorial jurisdiction.

We observe various incidents of food poisoning victimizing innocent consumers.

Yet it seems government has not done enough to curb food poisoning incidents.

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On April 9, 2015, two people—a tea house owner and his customer—died after drinking an odd-tasting milk tea from Ergo Chan Tea in Sampaloc, Manila.

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The customer’s companion, who took a sip of the milk tea, fell ill after taking a drink.

Although the initial investigation of the Department of Health (DOH) yielded negative results with respect to the presence of toxic substance in the milk tea sample, the incident still raised alarm on the possible harmful contents or substances in food products used and the manner of food preparations in food outlets;

On June 20, 2014, at least 130 people fell ill due to food poisoning in Tampakan, South Cotabato after eating the food prepared by a caterer during a community meeting;

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In October 2013, 11 South Korean nationals were rushed to the hospital also in Iloilo City in another case of food poisoning;

In another case last September 26, 2013, salmonella bacteria have triggered the food poisoning of 66 people who ordered products of Dakasi Milk Tea outlet in Iloilo City.

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This incident is also being blamed for the death of a 27-year-old man from Iloilo City;

Other food poisoning incidents include 50 people in La Union who were hospitalized last May 2012 after eating food that was served at a wedding reception.

About 200 people in Bulacan fell ill last June 2012 after eating at a birthday party.

In another incident in 2012,  21 youths who participated in the 1st Provincial Youth Summit were rushed to different hospitals in Butuan City after eating lunch served by an internationally known food chain;

Local governments should take the lead in conducting inspection if only to guard our citizenry against these health and safety hazards, in order to prevent similar occurrence of food poisoning.

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