Probe ‘synthetic rice,’ super body urged

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THE government should immediately convene the Food Safety Regulation Coordinating Board (FSRCB) to be able to map out plans on how to combat the entry not only of “synthetic rice” but also of other unsafe food into the market, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

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According to Sen. Francis Escudero, the food safety super body is mandated to craft policies and procedures on coordinating food safety regulatory and enforcement functions, research, training, monitoring and surveillance programs.

The FSRCB is jointly headed by the secretaries of Health and Agriculture and composed of member from the Trade and Industry, Science anad Technology aand Interior and Local Government departments; and various leagues of local government units.

Escudero said lead government agencies, such as the Health and Agriculture departments, should make up for the one and a half years spent in drafting implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, which meant to ensure that foods from farm to dinner table are safe and clean.

Among the powers of the board is to manage food safety emergencies, pursuant to the Food Safety Law’s requirement to put in place a “rapid alert system for the notification of any risk to human health caused by unsafe food.”

“The idea is to have a high level of food safety, protection of human life and health in the production and consumption of food,” Escudero said.

The senator made the call after the discovery last week of the so-called synthetic rice being sold in Davao del Sur in southern Philippines.

Escudero said he will be grilling “the responsible agencies on the state of the implementation of the Food Safety Law when they appear before us next month to justify their 2016 budget requests.”

“For example, have we set up tripwires in our country’s ports so that unsafe food can be detected? Is the sentinel system in place, one that can detect dirty food? ” he asked.

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