Participants in DTI Laguna compliance training

VICTORIA, LAGUNA – The Department of Trade and Industry – Laguna Provincial Office (DTI-Laguna), through its One Town, One Product Next Generation (OTOP NextGen) program, has started implementing a series of food compliance training for food manufacturers, processors, and service providers for the year 2021. This project aims to familiarize owners and food handlers with the basics of food safety and quality, guide them in preparing documentary requirements for their Food and Drug Administration – License to Operate (FDA-LTO) application, and develop them into qualified Food Safety Compliance Officers (FSCOs).

Awareness seminars such as Food Safety & Quality Management and Product & Process Standardization were conducted face to face at DTI-Laguna, Victoria, Laguna, on 17-18 March 2021. Existing and new OTOP Next Gen beneficiaries (“OTOPreneurs”) as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) assisted through the Kapatid Mentor Micro-Enterprise program and Negosyo Centers participated in the aforementioned two-day prerequisite training. Next topics such as current Good Manufacturing Practices in the New Normal and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures are scheduled in April 2021.

FSCOs of companies enrolled in the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) Certification project also joined to equip them with the knowledge necessary for understanding the HACCP principles. HACCP is one of the certifications required by many Canadian and other international markets to ensure the safety of food products.

In October 2020, DTI-Laguna started implementing the two-year HACCP Documentation/Certification project which aims to assist OTOPreneurs in preparing for the HACCP documentation and obtaining the HACCP Certification. It is designed to further assist OTOPreneurs who are willing and ready to apply for the HACCP Certification in 2021-2022 and who are planning to export their products.

The Resource Person, Engr. Menandro “Nanding” B. Ortego who is a licensed Chemical Engineer with a Master of Science degree in Food Quality Management specializing in Food Safety, emphasized the importance of food safety, quality, and sanitation especially nowadays where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is still considered as a global pandemic threat. With almost 30 years of experience in consulting and mentoring food and feed manufacturing firms, he advised MSMEs that all food-borne illnesses (also known as food poisoning) is a serious matter that food businesses need to address to prevent bad reputation, loss of revenue, business closure, and legal actions.

Engr. Nanding capacitated the MSMEs with information through lecture presentations and one-on-one consultancy. Aside from discussion, a writeshop was also conducted to acquaint MSMEs with the Product and Process Standardization forms such as Manufacturing Process Flow, Finished Products/Materials List (including raw materials, ingredients, packaging, non-food material), and Product Description, to be included in their operation manual. He also introduced the Production Layout or the “blueprint” of the production process.

The food processing industry is one of the priority sectors of the Province of Laguna. However, the food MSMEs are left behind due to a number of food safety compliance policies and certifications to acquire specifically the FDA-LTO. This license can guarantee that a food product is safe for human consumption. Thus, DTI-Laguna offers a series of Food Compliance Training and the HACCP Certification project to encourage and assist MSMEs in preparing for necessary licenses and certifications. These activities are part of the capacity-building training that DTI-Laguna offers under the OTOP NextGen program.

OTOP Next Gen is a flagship program of the Philippine government for MSMEs to level up their products and services through various interventions such as Product Development, Brand Development, Marketing Platforms and Promotions, and Standards Development and Compliance, among others. ♦

Date of Release: 22 March 2021