Guide to prevent food-borne illnesses developed by DOST

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Around 6 out of 10, or 68%, of food handlers are knowledgeable about food safety but fall short of putting it into practice in their food establishments.

This is according to the 2022 study by the Department of Science and Technology–Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) on the food safety measures of 300 randomly selected food service sectors.

Through innovations and technological advancement, food establishments have a vast amount of opportunities to provide trendy, delectable, and satisfying food for customers. However, despite these opportunities and the increasing number of food establishments, food safety remains a concern in the Philippines.

Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances cause more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are around 600 million food-borne diseases and 420,000 foodborne deaths worldwide yearly. Children 5 years and below carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125,000 deaths yearly, WHO added.

Microbiological analysis of food samples collected and sanitation of commonly used kitchen utensils and working tables were validated and supported using the ATP Luminometer kit. There were some food samples that tested positive in certain microbiological parameters, and the majority of the sampling points for the sanitation verification failed within the set limits. Thus, it is important to take serious and strict food safety precautions to prevent the spread of foodborne diseases.

In response, DOST-FNRI developed a simple, comprehensive, and risk-based guide to help food establishments conform to set standards of existing Philippine laws on safety in support of the food safety program of the government.

The DOST-FNRI food safety guidelines for the food service sectors was developed to improve the current food safety knowledge and practices of food establishment owners and food handlers based on the survey conducted among randomly selected food establishments in highly urbanized cities.

DOST-FNRI recommends regular monitoring and training for food handlers to instill the value of food safety. (Story courtesy of DOST-FNRI)