MANILA, July 13 (PNA) – Senators on Monday urged the public to be watchful on the food products they buy following reports of proliferation of fake rice and noodles and tainted candies in the market.
“Consumers have to be always on guard on what they buy, now that fake and tainted products have made it to the market,” Senator Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV said in a press statement.
Aquino, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, said the public should examine closely the food products whether it is safe for consumption.
“We call on our small businesses to ensure that our products are safe and fit for consumption for the welfare of our consumers,” Aquino, a staunch advocate of the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, stressed.
For his part, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto called for the formation of a team of scientists and doctors which can be rapidly deployed to places hit by food poisoning outbreaks.
”I think it is time to form quick reaction teams that can respond to food safety emergencies,” Recto said.
He explained that the formation of “that elite team of responders to food poisoning cases” is authorized under Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013.
According to Recto, the proposed team could help local health officials trace the origins of an outbreak, do a rapid analysis, and recommend containment measures.
Members of the team, he said, can be recruited from personnel of Food and Drug Administration, National Epidemiology Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, and National Poison Control Center, among others.
Recto said the formation of such team should be prioritized by Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board (FSRCB), which has been described as the super body which ensures that food produced, imported to, and sold in the Philippines are safe.
Under RA 10611, the FSRCB is tasked to set up a “Rapid Alert System” responsible for the “notification of a direct or indirect risk to human health due to food.”
The Board is mandated to prescribe the “emergency measures” when food hazards have been reported.
Nearly 2,000 schoolchildren in Surigao del Sur were rushed to hospitals Friday after they complained of dizziness and vomiting allegedly caused by contaminated durian candies.
Earlier this month, expired chocolate candies downed 36 Butuan City students.
Mushrooms bought in two town markets were tagged as the culprits in the hospitalization of 17 people in Pangasinan last June 26.
Also last month, 39 pupils and a teacher in Cauayan, Negros Occidental were brought to various hospitals due to alleged food poisoning after eating bichokoy, a local version of the doughnut. (PNA)