DAVAO CITY – The chairperson of the committee on health Councilor Joselle Villafuerte on Tuesday, said the city needs a more comprehensive food safety ordinance after the issues of fake rice, fake rice noodles, and poisonous durian candies hit the city.
Councilors Villafuerte and Marissa Salvador-Abella conducted an inter-agency meeting last July 8 to probe the issue of fake rice that has been allegedly proliferating here.
The meeting was participated by the National Food Authority (NFA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA), City Health Office (CHO), City Agriculture’s Office (CAO), and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Findings show that the chemical found in the rice samples submitted for the laboratory analysis was dibutyl phthalate, a chemical usually found in plastic products, cosmetics and toys, which is toxic.
Findings also reveal that the contamination found in the cooked rice may have been a result of improper food handling.
Read related story: Council conducts inter-agency meeting on fake rice issue
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said that with the rampant smuggling in the country, the proliferation of fake rice is one of the dangers of the rice importation policy of the administration.
Colmenares slammed President Benigno Aquino for declaring his authorization of rice importation during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last year.
He also questioned the reported planned importation by the NFA of 100,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam.
Read related story: Colmenares laments Aquino for authorizing rice imports
Before the matter of fake rice has been concluded, another issue sprouted after Chairman Gary Gensianos, a barangay official from the third district reported about an alleged synthetic bihon or rice noodles.
CHO-Environment Sanitation Division head Robert Oconer said that the alleged fake rice noodles was bought from Calinan Public Market.
Reports revealed that the said fake rice noodles did not spoil and its color and texture did not change even after a week it was cooked.
Samples of the alleged fake rice noodles were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for laboratory tests.
Just recently, more than a thousand people from the Caraga region fell ill after eating durian candies manufactured by a Davao-based candy maker, Wendy’s Delicious Durian Candy.
The JJCM Food Product in Maa was shut down Monday by the authorities following the case of food poisoning. and after it was found out that the business has been operating without a permit from the FDA and DOH.
Read related story: City closes ‘poisonous’ durian candy factory
Police authorities in Surigao del Sur said they have arrested 12 people, who reportedly sold durian candies in the region.
Seven of the 12 suspects said they are members of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ headed by Rev. Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
Pastor Quiboloy ordered an independent investigation to probe on the issue of poisonous durian candies.
“Considering the distance, we cannot fully verify. So finally, yesterday we decided to dispatch a team to Surigao,” said Attorney Charmelou Aldevera, Quiboloy’s legal counsel said.
“He (Pastor) knows what happened. In fact, the word that we got from him is to make sure that the members will get all the help they can get,” she said.
She also said that it was confirmed that an inquest proceeding was done yesterday.
Villafuerte said that all these issues of food safety have prompted the DOH to come up with food safety tips.
She said that in food handling, one must observe cleanliness and sanitize all surfaces and equipment.
Villafuerte also said that they will help the CHO, particularly the sanitary inspectors, to travel to Surigao del Sur and confirm reports about an existing repacking area in the region.
“So in the coming sessions we will probably pass or propose to enact an ordinance on food safety to conform Republic Act 10611 otherwise known as The Food Safety Act of 2013,” said Villafuerte. (davaotoday.com)