By: Myrrh Caithlin Gutierrez and Rochelle Cruz
Through the collaboration and efforts of different agencies, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Unified Food Safety Training Modules for MSMEs were launched on June 8, 2018 at Titanium Auditorium, Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), DOST Compound, Bicutan, Taguig City.
The launching ceremony was organized by DOST-CALABARZON, headed by its Regional Director Alexander Madrigal. It was graced by the presence of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña who also served as the keynote speaker. Dr. Alonzo A. Gabriel, Professor and University Scientist from UP Diliman, shared about the process they have been through in the development of the modules. Dr. Elmer T. Ferry, Assistant Regional Director for Research and Regulations, Department of Agriculture (DA)-CALABARZON, and Ms. Pilar Marilyn P. Pagayunan, Director of Center for Food Regulation and Research - Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), delivered the address speech of DA and FDA, respectively.
In Dr. Madrigal’s opening remarks, he emphasized how these training modules are the fruits of the labor of different collaborating agencies to address the knowledge needs of Food MSMEs. According to him, these different agencies saw the needs of MSMEs “to comply with the food standards mandated by legislation” that is why they converged to develop a unified training modules that the public can have access to. The main objective of unifying the food safety modules is to standardize the training materials being used by the 17 regions.
Sec. de la Peña, in his keynote speech, highlighted that the development of these training modules is a step towards the attainment of the number two and number three Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) namely “Zero Hunger” and “Good Health and Well Being”. He also said these training modules can help in reducing inequality among the people, since a lot of entrepreneurs will benefit from it, and can expand potentials for growth. These two things, he continued, are what the President wants. Lastly, he commended the efforts of everyone involved in the development of the modules and challenged everyone to be “agents in achieving better human nutrition and in building an effective food safety system”.
The unveiling of the DOST Unified Food Safety Training Modules was led by officials from DOST, FDA, DA, UP Diliman, and DTI. The modules are composed of training presentations, teacher’s manual, learner’s manual, and examination booklet on the three components of food safety namely: Food Safety Hazards, Basic Food Hygiene, and Good Manufacturing Practices.
The launching ceremony was closed by Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director of DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Chair, DOST Integrated Food Safety Program, by thanking everyone who contributed to the training modules.
After the launching ceremony, a press conference was held wherein the officials from DOST, DA, FDA, together with the project consultants, answered different queries from the press. Cathy Cruz, a reporter from Tuklasin Natin, asked whether the modules will be disseminated immediately to the public. Dr. Gabriel said that the modules will be mass produced after it is copyrighted. Sec. de la Peña and Dr. Madrigal, however, cleared out that although the modules are to be copyrighted, they can be used by interested groups for the benefit of the public. Ms. Angie Lee, from iBlaze FM, asked who will be the specific stakeholders to be trained. Dr. Ferry answered that they will first train the policy makers and then tap the DILG and LGUs. When they are trained, they can also be trainers so the knowledge can cascade down to the MSMEs.
The launching ceremony was also attended by Assistant Secretary Demphna Du-Naga of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Ms. Eloisa G. Rozul, Division Chief of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Mr. Albert R. Cariso Jr., from Food and Development Center (FDC), and Mr. Ernie S. Carlos (Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, Inc.).
Next steps for this project are application of copyright to the modules, finalization of translated versions to Tagalog and Bisaya, drafting of guidelines for the use and distribution, deployment to all DOST Food Safety Teams, and seeking recognition of the manuals from the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board (FSRCB).
These are all part of DOST’s continuous efforts to support the “Food Safety Act of 2013” that necessitates the provision of assistance to food supply chains for them to comply with the food safety requirements and regulations and to attain DOST vision- “safe food for everyone, by everyone, through Science, Technology, and Innovation.