SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives has approved on third reading a bill strengthening the food safety regulatory system in the country to protect consumer health and facilitate market access of local foods and food products.
House Bill 6474 creates the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board to be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is mandated to establish policies and procedures for coordination of regulatory systems as implemented by the DA, Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The bill was sponsored until plenary approval by the House Committee on Health chaired by Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (2nd District, Negros Occidental). It substituted House Bill 3428 authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), House Bill 3972 authored by Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, Agham) and House Bill 4417 authored by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza (4th District, Batangas).
Rodriguez said the measure aims to protect the public from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods.
"The measure will enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system and contribute to economic growth and development by promoting fair trade practices and by sound regulation of domestic and international trade," Rodriguez said.
Palmones said the creation of the Board will establish policies and procedures for coordination of regulatory systems as implemented by the DA, DOH and DILG and coordinate crisis management efforts during incidents involving food safety.
"The Board lays down the principles of food safety which include, but are not limited to, the determination of whether or not food is unsafe for human consumption; determination of whether or not food is injurious to health and determination of whether or not food is unsafe for human consumption," Palmones said.
Mendoza said it is the declared policy of the State, as provided for under Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Constitution to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.
"The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products. The State shall maintain a farm to fork food safety regulatory system that ensures a high level of food safety; promotes fair trade and advances the global competitiveness of Philippine foods and food products," Mendoza stressed.
The measure mandates the DOH to use scientific and risk analysis to ensure that the public is protected from foods and food products that are unsafe for human consumption.
The bill protects consumer interest through the prevention of adulteration, misbranding, fraudulent practices and other practices which mislead the consumer. It sets Food Safety Standards in accordance with the Philippine National Standards and the standards of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and provides transparency by way of mandating the DOH to give enough information to the public regarding foods that may pose risk to human health, the affected foods, types of food and the necessary measure to prevent, reduce or eliminate risk.
Under the measure, emergency measures are provided when it is evident that food originating from within the country or imported from other country is likely to constitute serious risk to human health. Such measures include the suspension of marketing of locally produced foods and suspension of importation of imported foods.
It provides for a Crisis Management system and procedures to address cases of possible radiation contamination of food, food shortage requiring combined action and other crisis situations which may compromise food safety.
Further, the bill provides for traceability by having in place a system by which the regulatory authorities can easily pinpoint the food business operator to which the foods or food products have been supplied and also for easy identification of person or company from whom food business operators are getting their supplies.