BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance prohibiting the excessive and inappropriate use of agrochemicals and mandating wholesalers and retailers to record the origin of the products being sold in their establishments.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Philian Louise Weygan-Allan states the measure intends to create a monitoring body to provide the setting up of a pesticide analytical laboratory to measure the food safety requirements of agricultural crops in the city.
Further, it will also provide for the creation of a data bank of the sources of food delivered to the city aside from pursuing an advocacy for the healthy food intake and consumer protection.
The ordinance mandates the creation of a Food Safety Monitoring Board which will be composed of the City Mayor as chairperson, the City Veterinarian as vice chairperson and the chairperson of the SP Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture; representative from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), City Market Supervisor; satellite market representatives; non-government organization representative; and market representative as members while the City Veterinary Office staff will serve as its secretariat.
The board shall monitor and make guidelines on how food safety will be implemented in the market and other food outlets in the city aside from developing a food monitoring program and create a task force during special, extraordinary occasions or on emergency situations.
The ordinance stipulates that a laboratory shall be set up under the City Veterinary Office which will be accessible by the people in the market and be managed by qualified and certified laboratory personnel.
Under the proposed ordinance, laboratory fees shall be set by the monitoring board to be confirmed by the local legislative body on a periodic basis.
The ordinance adds that market vendors engaged in the wholesale and retail of fruits and vegetables will be mandated to keep a file of the sources of their products and that the same shall be collected by the representatives of the Food Safety Monitoring Board and a databank shall be maintained for the said purpose.
The databank will be utilized in drawing up advocacy materials for healthy food, monitoring of food items sold in the market and consumer protection and awareness. The advocacy materials shall be used for the awareness of the general public.
Any person, natural or juridical, found violating the provisions of the ordinance shall be imposed a fine of P2,000 for the first offense, a fine of P3,000 and suspension of permit to operate business until compliance for the second offense and a fine of P5,000 and imprisonment of the business operator for 30 days or revocation of business license cancellation by the city or both upon the discretion of the court for the third offense.
The Constitution states that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them as stated in Section 15, Article Xi.
Republic Act (RA) 10611, otherwise known as the Food Safety Act of 2013, further strengthens the food safety regulatory system to protect consumer health and facilitate market access of local food products.
By DEXTER A. SEE