Stories of people experiencing food poisoning and related food borne illnesses are becoming mundane in the community. These may not happen every day in the place we live in, however, this becomes a big deal when such go on greater heights or when food poisoning outbreaks happen.
Candies which downed over 1,600 people in some provinces in Caraga alarmed the nation in 2015. While actions have been made after the incident, the food regulatory system focusing on food safety in the region leaves much to be desired, more importantly in the areas of production where ensuring safety is at a critical level. Same is true to the commercial and household level in the region, where food safety as an issue should also be pondered.
The candy incident in Caraga is only one of the thousand incidents of food poisoning that could happen around the world. Finding out the causes may answer the aftermath, but preventing such is another story.
Earlier this year, Winrock International- Philippine Cold Chain Project, which is based in Caraga, partnered the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Caraga Food Safety Team in promoting Food Safety in the region through an information, education and communication campaign. The campaign seeks to contribute and strengthen the food safety regulatory system by promoting and supporting improved practices in food production, handling and marketing to ultimately protect the health and general welfare of consumers.
This campaign dubbed as “Food Safe Caraga” was officially launched on July 24, 2016, as part of the Food Safety Fair during the third day of the National Science and Technology Week held at the Robinson’s Place in Butuan City.
The one-day fair highlighted two major activities, the Stakeholders Forum on Food Safety, which was attended by about 100 participants from government and non-government agencies and small-scale food processors in the region. The forum was able to bring up issues regarding the cleanliness of public markets and the possible interventions that S & T could offer. In the afternoon, the launching of the campaign took place where Chef Boy Logro, the Kusina Master had a cooking demonstration. Likewise, Mr. Daniel Gudahl of Winrock-International PCCP Chief of Party and Engr. Andrea Cabonita of DOST-CFST graced the unveiling of the “Food Safe Caraga” campaign brand.
Initial steps have already been made to fast track the activities of the campaign which include trainings for meat stall vendors, owners and processors, as well as the general public. Mass communication campaign with the use different media tools are also set to start in September.
The campaign is expected to end in 2017, where Caraga will be a safer one when it comes to food handling and distribution, not just for food processors but also for each individual in the community. As it is said, food safety is a global responsibility.