HEALTH:  FARM-TO-TABLE  APPROACH  ON  FOOD  SAFETY  PUSHED

[PHOTO AT LEFT - THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES LOS BAÑOS -Iskolar Para Sa Bayan]

MANILA,  JUNE 24, 2010 (STAR) By Helen Flores  - A Filipino professor is pushing the adoption of “farm-to-table” approach in handling food safety in the country to help reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses.

Dr. Mildred Padilla, a professor at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños College of Veterinary Medicine, said this strategy aims to strengthen each and every link in the complex process of food reaching the consumer — from the way it is grown or raised, to how it is collected, processed, packaged, sold and consumed. 

“This approach pertains to ensuring proper implementation of food safety guidelines in all stages of the food supply chain, from feed production, animal production and processing to transport, storage and retail sale,” Padilla said.

Padilla said this approach extends to the very end of the food chain — the consumer — by advocating training and education on the safe storage, preparation and consumption of food. 

Padilla said food safety in animal-sourced foods has yet to be strengthened in the country.

“In a country where food safety policies and initiatives are not well-coordinated, the public is at risk of being exposed to food-borne diseases such as Salmonella, a type of bacteria which causes illnesses like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache,” she said.

Food-borne illness, commonly called food poisoning, is caused by a number of food-borne bacteria and viruses, such as E. coli and Salmonella.

Padilla said Salmonella is generally transmitted to humans once they consume contaminated food of animal origin, mainly meat, poultry, eggs and milk.

Padilla said there is also inadequate food safety awareness and education among consumers and slow to non-adoption of good practices by producers and stakeholders in the country.

She said livestock and poultry are principal sources of many harmful food-borne microorganisms and chemical residues.

“While animal-associated microbial and chemical contamination of food can occur at any stage of the food chain, most reported cases of breach in food safety guidelines take place at the animal production area, such as in farms and even in abattoirs,” Padilla said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said that every year, 700,000 people die from food- and water-borne diseases in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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