Mandaue City- Aside from being one of the most historical places in the country, the province of Cebu also takes pride in its bestselling “pasalubong” products such as dried mangoes, danggit, masreal, and many more which local and foreign tourists like to bring home.

Thus Cebu food products penetrating the world market and gaining recognition is a common dream for local food manufacturers.

To help translate this aspiration into reality, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region 7 office, together with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation, recently launched the Cebu Food Consultancy Group (CFCG) during the 2014 Visayas Cluster Science and Technology Fair last October 4 at J. Center Mall in Mandaue City, Cebu.

The CFCG is a 21-member team from DOST, the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health, and different educational institutions in Cebu. With expertise in food technology and safety management, the group is tasked to provide food safety awareness trainings, industry exposure on basic food technology subjects such as metric conversions and basic food chemical components, referral to DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program, and training for companies aiming for certification under the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and ISO 22000.

HACCP is a system which ensures food safety, assess hazards, and establish control systems that focus on prevention.

The report of CCCI indicates that more than 40 percent of micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs in the Visayas are from the food sector. However, the chamber said there are no complementary technical and vocational training courses for the sector to improve its standards.

Meanwhile, DOST Region 7 Director Engr. Edilberto Paradela stressed that compliance with ISO 22000 and HACCP is necessary for local food companies to be able to sell their products in the world market.

Ma. Teresa Chan, president of CCCI ,added that the establishment of the CFCG is vital in helping the sector become globally competitive, particularly with the upcoming full economic integration of ASEAN countries next year.

Crucial needs of having safety standards for local food manufacturers
Meanwhile in a separate forum organized last September by DOST Region 7, CFCG Consultant Dietmar Speckmaier stressed that Philippine-based companies, particularly in food and beverage manufacturing, should realize that they must abide by global standards and constantly upgrade themselves to be qualified to serve the market.

He also mentioned a study on street food microbiology which showed that 52 percent of the 40 food samples failed in accordance to Philippine food safety standards.

Speckmaier said that local food companies have to comply with the requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration as personal hygiene and food safety are important.

“Testing is not enough. It should be a system. It should start with the food processing itself. Companies need to have a food safety system development to be implemented within,” he said. (With reports from DOST Region VII website)

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