DA seeks deal with DOH over processed food
MANILA -The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Health (DOH) as part of efforts to simplify the supervision of processed and prepackaged food products in the country, its official said.
Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said they recently met with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin to discuss transferring the supervision of these food items back to the DA at the soonest time possible.
This is a follow-through to previous attempts to amend certain provisions of the Food Safety Act of 2013, with Savellano saying signing an accord is faster than the amendment of the law.
“What we’re doing now is we are asking the Executive Secretary to help us because the DOH and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are implementing the law. I believe we should work together because we have the people, the equipment. It’s all in our laboratory,” Savellano said.
Under the Food Safety Act, the oversight of processed meat falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA, a regulatory agency under the DOH mandated to ensure the safety, efficacy or quality of health products such as food, drugs and cosmetics.
“When it comes to animals, leave it to the DA. When it concerns people, [DOH and FDA] can handle them. There is no problem with that,” he said.
Savellano said the executive secretary was “very thankful” that the matter was brought to their attention.
“I need to present [our position paper] ASAP. Otherwise, we will be affected.” “There are many concerns about our food safety and, if not resolved, many problems may arise,” he said, adding these include insufficient manpower and slow approval of applications at the FDA.
“We should help one another, especially in the agriculture sector where many could be displaced and businesses could close down,” he added.
Section 15 of Republic Act No. 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, delineated the shared responsibilities of the DA and the DOH in the regulation of meat products.
The DA is “responsible for food safety in the primary production and post harvest stages of food supply chain and foods locally produced or imported.”
On the other hand, the DOH will handle “the safety of processed and prepackaged foods, foods locally produced or imported under this category and the conduct of monitoring and epidemiological studies on food-borne illnesses.”
In 2016, the DA and the DOH issued a joint circular that placed the jurisdiction over processed meat to the FDA while the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), an attached agency of the DA, was left with supervising meat produced locally or sourced abroad.