Health authorities in the MIMAROPA region want to ensure sanitary inspectors are adequately equipped with knowledge and skills to protect people against unsafe food and drinks.

Thus, 40 sanitary inspectors from different municipalities within the region were made to undergo a strict 3-day Food Inspector Training Program that will not only familiarize them with food safety policies, but also update them on the latest when it comes to water- and food-borne diseases.

“Sanitary inspectors are an indispensable part of our healthcare system,” MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said. “They protect the people from water- and food-borne illnesses, and unsanitary, misbranded, or adulterated food that proliferate and are being sold carelessly in the market.”

It is essential for health inspectors to be properly trained and understand the risks of producing unsafe food, as well as the bacteria associated with it, he said.

The Department of Health has emphasized that food safety policy enforcement guarantees food will not cause harm to consumers.

Unsafe sources of drinking water, improper disposal of human waste, unhygienic practices such as spitting anywhere or blowing and picking the nose while handling food, and other unsafe handling and preparation practices are common causes of water and food-borne diseases and food poisoning.

Also part of the training was storage practices that also impacts on food safety.

Training was divided into modules, which covered topics on food safety, food hazards, illness from food, high-risk food, temperature control, personal hygiene, food safety training, premises and equipment, cleaning and sanitation, pest control, kitchen safety and food flow.

“Prevention and control of diseases depend primarily on the proper implementation of food safety policies and environment safety regulations in the community,” Director Janairo said.

After each module, participants had to undergo written and practical exams, and were given only one chance to retake the test if they fail initially.

“It’s never safe to assume that sanitary inspectors are already well-informed without having been properly trained. That is why it is important that they understand the risks associated with producing unsafe foods and be familiarized with terms like food safety, cross-contamination, (the transfer of a potentially hazardous substance to another surface or food) and various types of bacteria that are potentially dangerous if present in food,” he emphasized.

As mandated by the Food Safety Act of 2013, the DOH will oversee food safety in processed and prepackaged foods, locally-produced or imported food, as well as conduct epidemiological studies regarding food-borne diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, global food-borne and water-borne diarrhoeal diseases caused about 2.2 million to be sick annually, 1.9M of whom are children.

There were two parts to the training, the first covered basic food safety, while the second was more specialized, the HACCP Principles and Practices for Catering. MIMS

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