But how safe is the food served in food outlets, particularly those that cater to a wide variety of people every day? Do raw and processed foods undergo strict inspection? Are food safety standards in the country up to par with the global standard? Or is this seemingly food-preoccupied country lagging far behind?
Prof. Silvia Bonardi, Associate Professor at the Department of Animal Health (Section of Food Inspection) of University of Parma, was keynote speaker at the 12th 3M Food Safety Assurance Seminar held September 3 at the Acacia Hotel Manila to tackle foodborne pathogens and how to minimize the risk of food contamination.
Prof. Bonardi described the high public health standards in EU countries that ensured high food safety standards “from farm to fork”. EU legislation, she said, was particularly tough for food safety where failure to detect contamination may have terrible consequences. She stressed the need for rapid detection of foodborne pathogens to prevent epidemic outbreaks, and said food companies and the local food industry would benefit from rapid detection, more so the general public.
Dr. Supachai Basit, President of the Philippine Society of Microbiology, Inc. (PSM) recounted incidents when local communities contracted waterborne and foodborne diseases caused by contaminants in food and beverages. “The provincial government of Catanduanes declared a state of calamity in the municipality of Virac last June because of a cholera outbreak while hundreds of Laguna residents were hospitalized because of typhoid fever in 2008,” Dr. Basit said.
Dr. Basit said food and beverage manufacturing companies in the country must strictly comply with Good Maufacturing Practices (GMP), to ensure adequate cleaning and sanitation. They should also undergo Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification to ensure consumers that the food they eat is safe and clean. He thanked 3M Philippines for continuing to hold food safety seminars to educate those in food production and the food and beverage industry about proper food safety standards.
3M Philippines Food Safety Division meanwhile showcased at the seminar its 3M Molecular Detection System (3M MDS), a rapid detection system which combines two unique technologies—isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection—to offer the specificity and sensitivity needed to detect pathogens (Salmonella, E. coli O157–including H7 and Listeria).
“The Philippines is one of the countries actively exporting food stuff, that is why 3M Philippines feels the need to raise awareness about food safety and ensure that the Philippines is abreast with and conforms to international standards,” said Grace Laurio, 3M Food Safety Division Head.
“We in 3M believe that everybody has the right to safe food. Wherever the food comes from, it should be safe for human consumption. This food safety seminar is our contribution in uplifting the manufacturing industry in the Philippines through awareness of high safety and quality standards in food processing,” Laurio concluded.
Sixty participants composed of food technologists, quality assurance managers, food inspectors, microbiologists and university professors from leading food manufacturing/processing firms, the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and educational institutions in Luzon attended the seminar.