Press Release
August 28, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged stakeholders to push Congress to pass the Food Safety Act as the country continues to lack a comprehensive food safety regulatory framework.

Citing the increasing scarcity of food and the necessity of improved food regulation, Angara lamented the growing number of food poisoning cases reported in the past years.

"In Bohol, 27 schoolchildren died and more than a hundred fell ill for eating kamoteng kahoy. And just recently, two died and 40 became ill in Tugegarao City; while in Batangas 400 teachers were rushed to the hospital for food poisoning and so were another 200 schoolchildren in Bulacan," Anga said at the Philippine Food Safety Conference 2011 held on Thursday.

Angara added that diarrhea has remained one of the leading causes of morbidity and death for the last 20 years. On average, about 793,000 Filipinos suffered from diarrhea from 1999 to 2003, or a rate of 1,027 per 100,000 people.. The prevalence has gone down to about 439,000 in 2008.

"The Food Safety Act is long overdue. It would the first time we will put together a comprehensive, regulatory regime that will coordinate different government agencies in charge of food safety and quality assurance," said Angara.

"Food safety spans the entire chain of agricultural production, food processing and production, transport and storage, and consumption�and not only within our country, also of the numerous countries with which we trade."

He also stressed that the Philippines has yet to establish a food safety system that on par with international standards, hindering the competitiveness of the country's food exports.

Angara explained: "Trade of food and agricultural products has been increasing, and will continue to do so. But this comes with accompanying safety hazards, specifically potentially deadly contaminants and pathogens. Countries all over the world have been aggressively beefing up their food safety standards, especially on imports. Essentially, such standards are akin to trade barriers for those who cannot comply."

He encouraged stakeholders to study the measure and help craft its final form. "We have to convince our legislators of the urgent need for a food safety framework."

The Food Safety Act of 2011 (Senate Bill 2805) filed by Angara will clarify the mandate of the agencies tasked to oversee food safety: the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Interior and Local Government for the local government units.

It also seeks to create a Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board to institutionalize coordination among these regulatory bodies.

The bill will also create a Rapid Alert System, emergency response system and crisis management plan. In addition, it will support training, consumer education and research, especially among farmers, fisherfolk, government personnel and micro, small and medium scale food business operators.

"Coordination in implementing food safety regulations will ensure that the processes food goes through from farm to fork are safe," said Angara.

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