DOST awards compliant food establishments in Siargao Island
SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Apr. 1 — After a series of food safety-related trainings and inspections of the food establishments in Siargao Island, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Caraga has recognized and awarded the restaurants, eateries and homestays that passed the food establishment inspection and grading system (FEIGS), the first food grading system implemented in the country.
Of the 53 food establishments that voluntarily went through the process of inspection, 27 have highly conformed with the food safety standards and received a grade “A” equivalent to an excellent rating and “B” for very satisfactory.
Seven restaurants and three eateries obtained a grade of A; and 10 restaurants, six eateries, and one homestay garnered a grade of B after the last inspection.
During the awarding ceremony, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña emphasized the importance of food safety in public health and tourism industry, particularly in Siargao Island which is known to be one of the leading tourist destinations in the Philippines.
“By maintaining this kind of quality of facilities and services, the owners/operators will continue to get more clients and the tourists who came from all over the world can spread the word about which places are excellent to go. This grading system will really help them,” said Sec. Dela Peña.
Jose Rose Tekseth, owner of Pamomoan Beach Resort in Del Carmen, Siargao said it is really helpful and advantageous, as they were able to determine the aspects that need to be improved in order to meet the standards.
“I am very glad that we are recognized and rated excellent and that our efforts have borne fruit. We are proud to deliver the best services to our customers,” said Tekseth.
Del Carmen Mayor Proserfina Coro also acknowledged the DOST for implementing measures for food safety and for ensuring the cleanliness of food establishments on the island.
“We thank the DOST for providing us the technical assistance such as trainings, consultancy and monitoring. The evaluation of food establishments really helped the business operators in improving their services, especially in the preparation and handling of foods,” Coro said.
Evelyn Lao Singuan, owner of the King Crab restaurant, also noted a significant increase in their daily sales and said they got positive feedbacks from their customers. Her business got an ‘A’ rating for excellence in cleanliness and food hygiene.
According to DOST Caraga regional director Dominga Mallonga, the FEIGS helps to empower the local government units (LGUs) in establishing a mechanism that encourages food safety practices among food service establishments while providing informed choices to customers.
“This will also serve as a marketing leverage for them because more customers will patronize their business upon learning the kind of standard they maintained. It only proves the effectiveness of FEIGS project which bares the tagline, ‘clean places, safe food, happy customers.’ And so with happy customers, there are no complaints,” said Mallonga.
The implementation of which started in March 2018 has garnered more than 85 percent approval, as conducted in nine partner LGUs in Siargao Islands. There are 1,002 inspectors and food handlers who were trained on Food Safety.
After piloting the FEGS project in Siargao Island, Mallonga said that they are indeed in the process of implementing the same to the other areas in the region.
“We are optimistic that more LGUs here in Caraga will opt to apply the FEIGS project in their locality. As part of our expansion plan, we will also come up with a different checklist as a basis for the evaluation and monitoring intended for the ambulant vendors, especially those stalls selling street foods, because they also need to comply with the sanitation standards,” said Mallonga.
Meanwhile, the locals were glad with the implementation of the FEIGS, as it will surely create an impact for ecotourism opportunities in the island.
“As a consumer, we only want to experience the satisfaction in the basis of food and service quality, physical environment, and hygiene and cleanliness. Food service sanitation is one of the important factors that we consider when we decide to eat in food establishments. With FEIGS, we are assured of consuming the clean and safe foods,” said Meryrose Macabodbod, student of Oguing Navarro Memorial National High School in Sayak, Del Carmen.
FEIGS is a research and development project and a proactive measure which aims to prevent the occurrence of food poisoning outbreaks as a consequence of unhygienic conditions and practices in food handling. (Venus L. Garcia/PIA-Surigao del Norte)