The following information has been provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a contribution to this project. It is authorised information provided to the WHO by the relevant government. The project would welcome additional material in the usual FLIP2000 format.
The ministries involved in the food control system in the Philippines are the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Bureau of Food and Drugs under the Ministry of Health and the National Meat Inspection Commission under the Ministry of Agriculture are the two agencies most responsible for ensuring the safety of the country's food supply. Supportive activities are rendered by the Environmental Sanitation Division of the Bureau of Health and Medical Services.
The Bureau of Food and Drugs oversees the control of the manufacture and sale of processed foods, where the major concerns are adulteration and mislabelling of food products. It is responsible for the surveillance of imported food products at legal ports of entry. The National Meat Inspection Commission supervises the operations of abattoirs and meat establishments and conducts ante- and post-mortem inspections of meat. Sanitary operation of establishments engaged in the sale and preparation of food in public markets, restaurants and other food premises is the responsibility of the Environmental Sanitation Division.
For purposes of public administration of various government programmes, the country is divided into 12 regional units in addition to the National Capital Region which is Metro Manila. All ministries have regional offices. Food hygiene control is, therefore, administered at the national, regional and local (provincial/municipal) levels. The national level is responsible for the overall food safety policy which includes planning of regulatory and monitoring programmes at regional and local levels.
In order to reduce the incidence of foodborne diseases, the Ministry of Health has a food sanitation programme aimed at ameliorating food sanitation conditions through improved training and supervision of personnel responsible for food sanitation and more effective implementation of the Code on Sanitation. Food sanitation seminars, especially for food handlers, are conducted at the national, provincial and municipal levels.
Health education of the public, including the basic concepts of food sanitation and nutrition, is incorporated in the programme. Other than Chapter III of the Code on Sanitation, which applies to food service hygiene aboard common carriers, there are no national codes of practice on other aspects of food hygiene. In most cases, Codex recommended international codes of practice are adopted as guidelines. A technical advisory committee on food standards has been created to establish quality standards for various food products and to draft national codes of practice.
The Environmental Sanitation Section of the Environmental Health Division, has about 2250 sanitary inspectors at the regional level and 750 at the local level who are responsible for implementing the Ministry of Health's Code on Sanitation. The code includes water supply, sanitation, sanitation in food service establishments, sewage collection and waste disposal.
Sanitary inspectors are high school or college graduates, or have attended some years of college. In addition, they have undergone three weeks of training in environmental sanitation.
The Bureau of Food and Drugs has 30 food inspectors at the central level and 77 at the regional level to inspect food processing establishments and food products and to ensure compliance with the regulations enforced by the Bureau of Food and Drugs.
Food inspectors, usually Bachelor of Science degree holders, undergo one month of training in chemical and microbiological analysis of food and two months of training in food inspection procedures.
Under the National Meat Inspection Commission, meat inspection and supervision of meat hygiene during preservation are conducted by 30 meat control officers at the central level and 28 at the regional level. These officers, who hold a doctorate in veterinary medicine, delegate duties to meat inspectors who number 71 at the central level and 18 at the regional level. Meat inspectors hold degrees in agricultural science or animal husbandry.
The Bureau of Food and Drugs employs 27 chemists, 7 bacteriologists and 33 technician bacteriologists at its Alabang laboratory. The chemical laboratory conducts proximate food analysis, analysis of preservatives, aflatoxin and heavy metal contaminants, while the microbiological laboratory tests food for molds and yeast counts, total plate count, coliform count and enteropathogens, like Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and E. coli. Microbiological laboratories, which come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, are also available to public health authorities for use in disease surveillance.
Training courses in general food safety and food technology are available at the Institute of Public Health, University of the Philippines - Manila. Food Science and Nutrition Department, University of the Philippines - Diliman in Quezon City, and Food Science Department, University of the Philippines - Los Banos in Laguna.
Basic food laws are embodied in the following legislative acts and presidential decrees:
1 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (R.A. 3720) generally provides for the adoption of measures to ensure a pure and safe supply of food, to protect the health of the people and for the promulgation of food standards. The Bureau of Food and Drugs is the implementing agency.
2. Presidential Decree No. 4 authorizes the National Grains Authority to supervise the marketing and distribution of grain products.
3. Presidential Decree No. 7 authorizes the National Meat Inspection Commission to promulgate policies and procedures governing livestock, marketing of animal products and animal feed and meat hygiene inspection.
4. Presidential Decree No. 704 gives the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources the administrative responsibility to control fish and other marine products.
5. Presidential Decree No. 856 or the Code on Sanitation covers the sanitation of food service establishments.
6. Presidential Decree No930 authorizes the Ministry of Agriculture to exercise inspection and certification and/or treatment activities on imported and exported plant products such as fruits, vegetables and spices.
Food labelling is mandatory and information needs to be given on the name of the product, ingredients and food additives, and nutrition information, when necessary, the net Weight and the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor. The Bureau of Food and Drugs has prepared updated labelling requirements which will be released officially in due time. For certain foods, additional information such as recommended storage conditions and date-marking may be required.
Food products intended for import or export are subject to mandatory registration with the Bureau of Food and Drugs. In addition, Presidential Decree No. 1593 requires centralization of the import of animals for breeding or for slaughter.
National microbiological standards for food have not yet been established. The United States, Canadian and other recommended international standards, such as the Codex Alimentarius Standards, are presently adopted as guidelines. The Code of Practice for Thermal Processing of Low Acid Foods will soon be ready for release officially by the Bureau of Food and Drugs.
All food establishments are required to obtain a licence to operate, Inspection. which is renewable annually. Food establishments, when found operating under unhygienic conditions or not in accordance with the guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), are required to stop their operation, and the licence is suspended. If the management fails to institute corrective measures, the licence to operate may be permanently revoked. To monitor the health of food handlers, such persons are required to obtain a health certificate before they are employed.
Foodborne infections such as gastroenteritis and all forms of dysentery are notifiable diseases. Every physician, director, superintendent or person-in-charge of a hospital, educational institution, and personal hygiene. residential building or industrial establishment shall notify the nearest health station of the occurrence of the disease, indicating the name and address of the affected person. This information is transmitted to the Disease Intelligence Center of the Ministry of Health.