The Los Baños Science Community Foundation Inc. (LBSCFI) held “Talakayan: A Technology Forum on Food Quality and Safety for Los Baños Entrepreneurs” at the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) auditorium on August 1.
Ms. Jane Agnes U. Olivares, Senior Science Research Specialist of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region IV-A, opened the technology forum with her lecture titled “Farm-to-Table Food Safety: An Overview.” She discussed the importance of safe food handling and how food borne diseases are acquired. According to her, food safety should be practiced from the beginning of food production up until the food reaches the consumer’s table. In addition, she gave emphasis on the benefits of food safety stating that its practices contribute to the good image and reputation of the business.
Meanwhile, Ms. Grace D. Noceja, Senior Science Research Specialist of DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), discussed on food packaging. Ms. Noceja explained that it has several kinds depending on the type of food and that packaging materials used in storing and transporting raw materials in food production are very important. She explained that packaging is not just a container but a way to protect food to extend its life. Packaging materials should also give consumers proper information about the food – its ingredients, expiration date, etc.
The latter part of the techno forum focused on the food business establishments and entrepreneurs. Dr. Alvin A. Isidoro, Los Baños Municipal Health Officer, gave reminders about the existing municipal health ordinances to monitor the food safety practices of store owners and entrepreneurs in Los Baños. He also talked about the implementing rules in the conduct and etiquette of sellers in producing, handling and serving foods to the consumers. Proper food selling etiquette encompasses the following: over-all structural design and location of the food establishment; health, sanitation and hygiene practices of the sellers; and proper attire that the seller should wear.
According to Dr. Isidoro, the Municipal Health Office (MHO), together with the Department of Health (DOH), has the authority to inspect food establishments. He also discussed that aspiring food entrepreneurs should first obtain sanitary permit from MHO before operating.
Lastly, Ms. Laura E. Jaraplasan, a Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Laguna gave a lecture on the marketing strategy and promotion of food business. Ms. Jaraplasan gave some ideas on how to widen distribution channels or networks for food business. She shared that food establishment owners could set up their store in school canteens, supermarkets, hospitals, and malls depending on the nature of food they want to sell. She also gave tips on marketing strategies and how to cope with competition. Since many food businesses are alike nowadays in terms of the products they sell, she said that it depends on the sellers on how they would sell, put price and promote their products.
The techno forum aimed to increase the level of awareness and knowledge of the people, especially food entrepreneurs, regarding food safety, and also to increase the quality of the products they sell. About 95 food entrepreneurs and businesspersons from 62 establishments and stores in Los Baños attended the event. (Don Q. Castillo)