Green Groups Reiterate “Food Safety” as World Commemorates Consumer Rights Day

celebration of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on 15 March, environmental
groups Consumer Rights for Safe Food and the EcoWaste Coalition echoed the global
call to keep food safe and healthy for everyone.

“We join the
world in the celebration of WCRD by resounding its 2015 theme, ‘Healthy Diets’,
through reiterating our call to the government, the private sector, and even
the general public to join hands in ensuring that food, the most basic of necessities,
are protected from hazardous substances, genetically modified organisms, unsafe
handling, and manipulation,” Rene Pineda, Vice-President, Consumer Rights for
Safe Food.

Aileen Lucero, National
Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, added that “a basic principle in
keeping our diets healthy is by keeping it safe – safe even from too much
processing and additives, such as high sugars and unhealthy fats, to give a
concrete example.”

Quoting from the World Heart Federation, Lucero said that unhealthy diets are
those “…high in sugars, saturated and trans-fats, low fibre foods and
high-sugar drinks [which] contribute to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and
other health problems.”

The groups summarized
their stance on food safety by maintaining that, to keep food safe, it should
be free from the following:
food- and water-borne illness-carrying organisms
unsanitary, impure, and unhealthy preparation and over-processing of food
chemical contamination either as added ingredient in the food product itself or
as a result of contamination from leached substances from packaging
genetic modification
misbranding of food and food products

They  pointed out that, globally, efforts
by the consumer rights movement, headed by Consumers International, the WCRD
organizer, are increasing to push the World Health Organisation (WHO) toward
the development of a global treaty on consumer rights to healthy and safe food
that would:
Reduce very high levels of fat, salt and sugar in everyday foods
Reduce the marketing of junk food to children
Provide clear nutrition labelling to help consumers choose a healthy diet
Improve the standards of food served in public institutions such as schools and

Locally, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA)
signed recently the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Food Safety
Act of 2013 or Republic Act 10611 with the aim of ensuring food safety from
source to the consumers’ tables.

“This signing of
the Food Safety Act IRR by both the DOH and the DA is highly commendable and
extremely necessary in the face of global and local unhealthy dietary trends
and must see its realization through immediate genuine implementation of the
law,” the groups said.

According to
Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin “The IRR aims to protect the consumer
from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome,
misbranded or adulterated foods; enhance industry and consumer confidence in
the food regulatory system; and achieve economic growth and development by
promoting fair trade practices and sound regulatory foundation for domestic and
international trade.”

Former US
President John F. Kennedy, in his historic address on 15 March 1962 outlining
his vision of consumer rights before the Congress, explained that “consumers…
include us all.”