The wave of food poisoning cases involving close to 300 child victims from Pangasinan to Davao should drive local government units (LGUs) into fast tracking the implementation of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, in their respective jurisdictions.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watchdog group for public health and the environment, made a pitch for the urgent localization of R.A. 10611 after monitoring food poisoning incidents that downed children, mostly from public schools, from June 7 to July 3, 2015.
“In just 27 days, 287 children fell sick after consuming foods that were either adulterated, contaminated or past their expiration date,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“That’s over 10 pediatric food poisoning cases per day. Luckily, there were no reported fatalities,” he pointed out.
The spate of food poisoning incidents should serve as a wake-up call to LGUs on the urgency of putting the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 10611 into force, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The Department of Agriculture and Department of Health promulgated the law's IRR on February 20, 2015.
Under Rule 15, “the LGUs shall be responsible for the implementation of the food safety requirements of foods produced within their areas of jurisdiction, includ(ing) primary, postharvest, processed and prepackaged foods marketed in traditional markets as well as restaurants and school canteens, catered foods, street vended, and/or ambulant-vended foods.”
“While the enabling city or municipal ordinances are being prepared, we appeal to all food business operators to adhere to basic food safety requirements and controls to protect consumers from food
poisoning,” Dizon said.
Citing published stories, the group noted that 36 pupils of Doongan Elementary School were rushed to the Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital on July 3 for food poisoning due to the consumption of expired chocolate candies.
Prior to this latest incident, 114 students from Guelew Elementary School in San Carlos City were brought to the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital and the Virgen Milagrosa Medical Center on July 2 after consuming expired fruit-flavored chewing gum.
On June 19, 17 students from Don Francisco S. Dizon Elementary School in Davao City fell ill after drinking a suspected contaminated fruit shake.
On June 10, 41 students from Man-uling Elementary School in Cauayan, Negros Occidental experienced food poisoning after eating a local donut called “bitchokoy” sprinkled with sugar that had oxalic acid, a bleaching agent, mixed in it.
On June 7, 79 kids at the Manila Boystown Complex in Marikina City were admitted at the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center after consuming spoiled boiled eggs and hotdogs.
“With support from the lead national government agencies, we expect all LGUs to rise to the challenge of protecting their constituents, particularly the young children, against poisoning risks from unsafe foods ,” Dizon said.
Negros Occidental Case:
Marikina City Case: