Press Release
January 20, 2009

Loren bats for strengthening of BFAD

After the Melamine which was said to have contaminated milk from China, the Philippines is confronted again with another threat to health, this time by peanut butter coming from the United States.

Senator Loren Legarda raised this concern yesterday as she batted for the speedy passage of the law that will strengthen the regulatory capacity of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

"We are often exposed to the threats of products coming from abroad, and it is wise for the government to be always ready to check these threats," said Loren.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Loren said the government must strengthen the monitoring of imported food in the face of the new threat of Salmonella contamination of peanut butter based products from the United States.

The agency tasked to monitor imported products are the Bureau of Customs and the BFAD, which Loren said, must forge better coordination in guarding against contamination of food brought by importers, and products that may be smuggled by unscrupulous businessmen.

Under Loren's co-sponsorship of the bill, the BFAD will be renamed to Food, Drugs, Cosmetics and Devices Administration of FDCDA, which will receive complaints on products and will order the banning and the recall of questioned products.

The bill will also give the new FDCDA the power to monitor products after production and after they have been produced and distributed to retailers.

Loren said the bill seeks to broaden the scope of the BFAD regulatory power not only on food and drugs, but also on cosmetics.

Loren said adequate testing laboratories and field offices will be established and their human resource complement will be upgraded, to keep pace with the challenges of times.

"We need a more vigilant regulatory body that will support and improve the protection and promotion of the right to health of the Filipino people," Loren said, adding that the FDCDA will undertake the necessary health manpower development and research to answer the country's health needs and problems.

It marked the second time that the country experienced food scare of this magnitude, after the Melamine scare prevented the public from buying milk and milk products imported from China last year.

She explained that the regulatory capacity of the now-existing BFAD will be enhanced and strengthened to ensure a more effective inspection, licensing, and monitoring of food and drugs.

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