By: John Maico M. Hernandez, DOST-PSTC Batangas
The TechSilog Online Seminar Series of the Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) Batangas made another breakthrough recently after recording its greatest number of participants in a single episode at 1,708. The topic discussed was School Canteen Food Safety Management in the New Normal.
Participants came from different sectors composed of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), educators who are mostly designated as school canteen managers, students, researchers, government officers, and private organizations.
The discussion was led by Jake Lloyd Peña, Project Assistant III at the Food Safety Unit of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) CALABARZON, a secretariat of the organization’s Food Safety Team, and a Servsafe-certified Food Protection Manager.
The seminar touched on the existing food safety-related practices of school canteens in the country in accordance with the prevailing Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 8, S. 2007 or the Revised Guidelines on the Operation and Management of School Canteens in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. Other topics discussed included the shifts applied in school canteens because of the pandemic, the importance and benefits of basic food hygiene implementation in school canteens, the requirements of the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines (Presidential Decree No. 856), and the Codex Alimentarius Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene (CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 3, 1997).
Peña highlighted the importance offood safety and training of canteen personnel proper and safe food handling under DepEd Order No. 8, S. 2007. To support his discussion, Peñacited incidences of food poisoning in Mambugan and Cupang Elementary School, Antipolo City, Rizal were also shared to reiterate the compliance of school canteens on Food Safety through DepEd Order No. 52, S. 2008 or the “Compliance with DepEd Policies on Food Safety”.
Moving forward, Peña talked aboutbasic food hygiene ensuring; safety in purchasing raw materials, cooking and holding food considering the required temperature; tracing potential sources of contamination;design layout and ventilation and process flow of the facility; placing and cleaning of equipment used in the cooking process; and designating persons to supervise food handling operations.
The resource speaker shared the DOST CALABARZON-developed “Food Safety Self-Assessment Tool” that can be used to evaluate whether or not the practices of the school canteen food handlers conform to food safety standards. This tool can be accessed at https://www.fssat.dostcalabarzon.ph.
Peñaalso provided some key takeaways from his discussion which participants must always practice and remember. These reminders and tips included the following: (1) cleanliness is everything; (2) to avoid cross-contamination, separation is key; (3) cook foods thoroughly; (4) keep hot foods hot and keep cold foods cold; (5) when in doubt, throw it out; and (6) always use safe water and raw materials. To him, “Food safety is a shared responsibility” and school canteens are no exception.
Towards the end of the presentation, there was a question-and-answer portion dubbed “ConsulTalk” where most of the queries focused on food safety issues that school canteens encounter including the deterrents in the implementation of food safety measures.
Emelita P. Bagsit, DOST CALABARZON OIC Regional Director, stressed the significance of implementing food safety practices in school canteens to ensure the safety of children, among others. Because of the success of the said initiative, Bagsit also encouraged the participants to request other topics they want tackled in future episodes of TechSilog. On the other hand, Felina C. Malabanan, PSTC Batangas Provincial Director, extended her gratitude to all the participants who attended and streamed the entire episode and encouraged all to continue supporting TechSilog by attending the next episodes this season.
Mr. Jake Lloyd Peña during his discussion on the School Canteen Food Safety Management in the New Normal.
Emelita P. Bagsit, OIC Regional Director of DOST CALABARAZON addressing the participants in her message.
Felina C. Malabanan, PSTC Batangas Provincial Director, extending her gratitude for the overwhelming number of participants in this episode of TechSilog.