DepEd to issue food safety protocol to 4,000 public schools in E. Visayas
TACLOBAN CITY-The Department of Education (DepEd) regional office here will issue this week a food safety protocol for over 4,000 public elementary and secondary schools in Eastern Visayas in a bid to prevent food poisoning among learners.
Renelda Salar, DepEd regional supervising nutritionist, said that the protocol is a guideline summary reiterating the two department’s order issued six years back.
DepEd Order No. 14 series of 2005 instructs to ensure consumption of nutritious and safe foods in schools while DepEd Order No. 17 issued the same year provides implementing guidelines on the operation and management of school canteens in public elementary and secondary schools.
“We have been drafting this protocol that will serve as a guide in the operation of school canteens, avoid food contaminations, and how to respond to possible food poisoning cases,” Salar told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
The official admitted that while they discouraged students from buying foods and beverages outside the campus during recess time, the problem is inevitable due to poor regulations.
“Every school must have a school canteen, no matter how small the school and how modest the canteen. In schools without canteen, school heads and Parent-Teacher Community Association should take steps to establish one,” Salar added.
The education department has instructed that food items available at the canteen should include natural or fortified food products that are rich in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals such as root crops, rice and corn products in native preparations, fruits and vegetables in season, fortified foods with Sangkap Pinoy seal.
Beverages are limited to milk, shakes and juices prepared from fresh fruits and vegetables.
The official said that since they encourage the preparations of natural foods, they are now requiring the training of food handlers to prevent food contaminations.
“The protocol will summarize the contents of Food Safety Handbook for schools provided by the department’s Health and Nutrition Center. This will serve as their guide in their operations and when there are food poisoning cases,” said Salar who was tasked to draft the guideline for the region.
“Unlike school-managed canteen, it’s hard to regulate cooperative-managed canteen but we monitor their compliance to the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines,” Salar added.
She said that in order to avoid chemical contamination, DepEd disallow the use of canteen as stockroom of prohibited items, which are for use in food preparations.
The issuance of protocol was directed following the recent food poisoning incident in Cagayan that killed two school children and hospitalized 41 students and three teachers. (Sarwell Q. Meniano)
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