Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar has ordered stricter first border inspection and control procedures on all imported food items and agri-fishery products to guarantee that only items considered as safe would get distributed to local markets.
“It is incumbent for all regulatory agencies and bureaus of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to implement established sanitary and phytosanitary measures, food safety standards, and other regulatory measures in conducting first border inspection and control procedures,‘’ Dar said in DA Memorandum Order No. 30 , which he signed last April 29.
He reiterated that “it is the duty of the state to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness to its citizens, as well as protect them from trade malpractice and substandard or hazardous products.”
“Thus, it is necessary for the DA family to maintain a farm-to-fork food safety regulatory system that ensures a high level of food safety, promotes fair trade, and advances the global competitiveness of Philippine agri-fishery products,” he added.
Section 12 of Republic Act (RA) o. 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 provides that imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the Department of Health (DOH) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations.
The DA and the DOH inspection must be done before the assessment for tariff and other charges by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
With this, the attached agencies and bureaus of the DA tasked with the conduct of first border inspection and control were ordered to review and revise their respective strategies and methods, in accordance with the applible laws, to ensure its smooth implementation of the first border inspection system.
The DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has the duty and regulatory powers to issue animal quarantine, inspection and sanitation, as well as the regulation of the importation of animals, among others.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is mandated to monitor and regulate the trade of fishery and aquatic resources, particularly the examination of all fish and fishery exports and imports that may be a source or medium of fish pests or diseases and ensure the quality of the commodities to meet international standards.
Lastly, the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has the duty and power to examine imported plants, plant-based products and other materials capable of harboring plant pests and potential animal pests, and administer necessary measures to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the law.
Dar said shipments that fail to comply with the Food Safety Law and other applicable laws will be confiscated and properly disposed of immediately.