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By: John Maico M. Hernandez, DOST-PSTC Batangas

3G Country Farms, based in Sitio Kaybibisaya, Barangay Aga, Nasugbu, Batangas and recognized as one of the biggest oyster mushroom producers in the Philippines, once again initiated a two-part training on current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to strengthen its existing food safety system, Feb. 19 and 26.

A year after, 3G Country Farms marshalled the conduct of the same training for its production workers. This is in recognition of the training’s relevance on improving the skills and practices of their production workers and the food safety implementation standards they observe in both mushroom growing and processing. The training this year also helped the company prepare for the Food and Drugs Administration’s surveillance audit in reference to their application for License to Operate. Yet aside from the accreditation of their compliance on the food safety requirements, they have also embedded this initiative to support their project under the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) which aimed the upgrading of their mixing process in substrate preparation and the value adding to their fresh oyster mushroom by producing mushroom chips using DOST developed vacuum frying machine.

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All the eleven production workers of the company were capacitated about the food safety standards. Each of them was asked about their individual functions and the manufacturing practices they observe during production. The discussions helped them dig deeper into the technicalities and consequences of paying no heed to food safety principles. Specifically, topics such as basic food hygiene, food hazards (i.e., biological, chemical, physical and allergens), cross-contamination, personnel hygiene, food contact surfaces, pest control, cleaning and sanitation, and documentation, provided the production workers with detailed expositions on maintaining food safety in every aspect of food production. Simulation activities on hand washing, food hazards, and cross-contamination were likewise executed to ensure that production workers recognize the effects of critical sets of processes. As a means of assessment, a diagnostic examination was given, and all the trained production workers got passing grades.

The DOST Unified Food Safety Training Modules for MSMEs were the reference materials used during the training while DOST CALABARZON Food Safety Team Members, Mr. Mhark Ellgine A. Libao and Mr. John Maico Hernandez both from Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) Batangas, served as the speakers.

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3G Country Farms is a Filipino family-owned enterprise established in 2006 in response to the growing demand of the public for affordable organic food. It mainly produces white oyster mushrooms which continuously gain popularity due to its nutritional value, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. In 2013, it was recognized as the largest Filipino producer of oyster mushroom in the country by the Bureau of Plant Industry.