Capacity building program for food safety, sanitation management commences in Palawan

July 10, 2014 5:58 am 

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 9 –- The Palawan State University (PSU) in this city recently pioneered the conduct of a 10-day “Training of Trainors on Food Safety and Sanitation Management” with the support of the Center for Health and Development (CHD) of the Department of Health (DOH) and its MIMAROPA Regional Office.

The 10-day training revved up the capacity development program that is directed towards enabling government agencies to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in strictly following food safety standards as a vital means to improve their products and increase competitiveness, particularly in the expected integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015.

The University of the Philippines-Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP-ISSI) provided the design of the module that was used for the first training, which aims to equip identified trainers from Palawan with compulsory and essential technical inputs for the subsequent conduct of the “Food Safety and Sanitation for Food Inspectors” training that will be assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Food and Drug Administration (BFAD), and local government units (LGUs).

In a media conference Wednesday, Dr. Fe Ricon, the PSU Presidential Assistant for Campus and Institutional Development, affirmed the role of the university in the advocacy for food safety in Palawan and the country.

“The PSU will stand on its commitment to re-tool and revitalize the food safety and sanitation front liners in Palawan, in the region, and beyond,” she said, establishing that the pilot training will be followed by a similar capacity building exercises in the coming months.

The participants to the training that started on June 30, and ended Wednesday, included representatives from PSU, the FDA, DTI-Palawan Provincial Office, El Nido Municipal Health Office, and the Southern Palawan College.

While the training was programmed for the government sector for a start, industry leaders also participated.

“One of the next steps to be undertaken is to provide similar training for the MSMEs in the food and health, and wellness sectors. Palawan, which is one of the primary tourist destinations in the Philippines, has to step up collective efforts for the conformity of its products with recognized standards. If not, we will lose even our local market to global competitors that will soon offer equivalent, standards-accredited products right in our midst,” said by DTI-Palawan Provincial Director Rosenda Fortunado.

The training of trainors forms part of the capacity development program envisaged by Dr. Ariel Valencia, the deputy director general of the FDA, who welcomed the partnership with the DTI Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (BMSMED) and the DTI-led Trade Related Technical Assistance Project 3 (TRTA 3) to address the general lack of technical knowledge of government employees serving the food and drug sectors of the country, as well as equip MSMEs with better appreciation for the FDA-issued license to operate (LTO) as a crucial key for their sustained access to the markets, both local and international.

Valencia said the training is an example of how the government is serious in resolving the concerns of the people, especially food safety that the FDA is trying to push forward.

“The FDA as a government regulator is looking into its role… practically, anything you eat, anything you drink, anything you use in your face, in your skin, anything… the medicine you drink, you inject… is regulated by FDA. So, they can’t be without FDA,” he said in promoting the training of trainors for food safety and sanitation management.

The FDA, he furthered, does not only want to be remembered as a regulator but also as a scientist based on the standards on food safety it promotes, based further on scientific evidence they find and turned into standards or guidelines to keep the public safe.

“Aside from this… being scientists… we are also the vanguard of health, to take care of public health,” he said, adding that more than 50% of what is spent by an individual is regulated by FDA.

“Ultimately, the integration of our standards-conforming MSMEs into the global markets through established value chains will help the country achieve the targeted inclusive growth,” Valencia said, as he lauded the DOH-MIMAROPA Region, the DTI, the PSU and other partner agencies.

Nestor Rañeses, chief of the UP-ISSI, on the other hand, explained that for their part as an organic research and review center, created by virtue of Republic Act 6041, is in existence to help nurture and mature small-scale entrepreneurs.

The program will reportedly meet the requirements of the FDA, and will promote food industry competitiveness training program.

The module is centered on the food sector since it accounts for 50 percent of the MSMEs. “National Statistics Office information will show that 99.6 percent of all these establishments in the Philippines belong to the MSMEs sector,” he said.

In the context of ASEAN integration, Rañeses said opportunities are available, but while they are, challenges are also present such as the .4 percent big business establishments that can compete.

In this case, the MSMEs, without support might be left behind. “Our small businessmen, our entrepreneurs, they are the ones we want to support. This… what we have is actually, something that can help the food industry become competitive, be more productive, to make them quality-competent. Safety is included in the quality,” he said.

The sanitary inspectors were included, he stated further, because they can support the MSMEs and the food industry.

“Eventually, this program, this training… which will be conducted on 3,000 more sanitary inspectors, we just did it here in Palawan first… is to help small-scale entrepreneurs to really become globally-competitive,” Rañeses said. (PNA)

LAP/CARF/UTB

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