TABUK City, Kalinga – The City Government of Tabuk through its City Health Office (CHO), in its commitment to insure the safety of food and water products continues to monitor the compliance of business owners to sanitation code.
Sanitary Engineer Smith Dawaton, during his appearance in the local government’s radio program City Updates that airs over Radyo Ng Bayan, said the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines (Presidential Decree 856) applies to all food establishments and facilities, including those located in vessels, food containers, vehicles, and food sold in the street.
He said no person or entity shall operate a food establishment for public patronage without securing a sanitary permit, which is valid for one year. The sanitary permit shall be posted in a conspicuous place of the establishment and shall be available for inspection by health and other regulatory personnel.
As for sanitary facilities requirements, he said wash-hand basins shall be installed with an adequate supply of soap, nail brush, and clean towels. Potable water must be issued with a Certificate of Potability issued by the local health officer as recommended by the sanitary engineer of the locality. The establishment must also be installed with enough ventilation and lighting.
The sanitary engineer also mentioned any person who intends to operate or work in a food establishment is required to secure a health certificate issued by the local health officer.
“Before a health certificate is issued, the person must first undergo medical procedures like X-ray, urinalysis, fecalysis, and must attend a basic food safety seminar,” Dawaton said.
He mentioned the health certificate shall be clipped visibly in the upper left front portion of the uniform or garment worn by the employee while working. When such condition is not practical due to the nature of the work in the establishment, the health certificate shall always be made available upon inspection.
The laboratory procedures being undertaken is part of Ordinance No.3, s.2007 mandating all food handlers, along with beauticians, room boys, manicurists, and masseurs to secure a health certificate.
Inquiring on the actions of the city government behind non-compliance of some business owners to sanitation code, Dawaton replied that the seven sanitary inspectors regularly conduct inspections and establishments that do not comply are issued with a sanitary order. He emphasized the set requirements deter owners from complying.
“The issuance of sanitary order, when not acted promptly, can lead to revocation of business permit or recommendation for foreclosure or transfer of business establishment,” Dawaton cautioned.
The compliance of owners of food stalls in the two public markets is inspected by the CHO, joined by members from the LGU’s Business Permit and Licensing Office, City Building and Architecture Office, City Planning and Development Office, City Treasury Office, City Mayor’s Office with Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine National Police.
Dawaton disclosed Class C food establishments or those with no food ratio requirement are the common violators of the code. Of the 352 food establishments in the city, 315 have secured sanitary permit.
Asked what is just to do in case the food served contains foreign objects like hair or fly, Dawaton answered the customer can bring the food to the management or to the CHO for appropriate action.
To avoid this, he said food handlers must observe good personal hygiene and must wear food safety equipment like apron, hair net, mask and gloves.
Dawaton, who said food stalls must also ban smoking, chewing of betel nut, sneezing or coughing within the premises for safety and convenience, informed customers can reject food served by sickening handler.
As to the sanitation of the 42 water refilling stations, he reported all have been issued with sanitary permits from the CHO.
“Starting in 2018, water stations must first secure a License To Operate (LTO) from the regional office of Department of Health before the CHO gives the sanitary permit,” Dawaton announced, adding the absence of these two documents can mean temporarily closure of business.
The LTO issued requirements that water stations must be located 25 meters away from canals or septic tanks, monthly laboratory water analysis such as a bacteriological test, weekly backwashing, and regular filtration.
During his guesting on the radio show, Dawaton said water delivery boys must also secure health certificates and wear personal hygiene equipment to avoid water contamination.
“In case of violation, the customer can bring the matter to the attention of the CHO for appropriate intervention,” Dawaton reminded.
For stricter enforcement of the code, the CHO conducted quarterly food and water safety seminars in 2017.
By Darwin S. Serion