The unconfirmed report of banana products to be exported to a foreign country intercepted when a nail was found in the shipment has heightened the campaign of the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards on food defense and intentional contamination.
Karen Kristine Roscom, BAFPS chief science research specialist, who was in Bacolod City for the food defense awareness seminar, said the report came from a US private company that sells software on food defense.
Though it has not been confirmed, it was most probably caused by a disgruntled employee who wants to sabotage the shipment, she said.
That did not lead them to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation – Food Defense Pilot Project of the United States where the Philippines became a participant last year, along with other countries like Peru, Thailand, and Vietnam, Roscom said.
She said food defense is any measures taken to prevent intentional contamination. It is different from food safety that usually involves preventing and controlling contaminants unintentionally added, while criminal act is involved in food defense, she added.
Because of the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center, the U.S. has been very conscious that food exports may be used by terrorist thus it initiated the APEC project, Roscom said.
The Philippines was also involved in the contamination of melamine in the imported milk but the DA already have a system of testing melamine in the milk and that has been addressed by the Food and Drugs Administration, she also said.
Roscom also said that DA is now focusing on the foreign exports like bottle preserves, fish products of General Santos, and the muscovado sugar of Negros Occidental to safeguard it from possible intentional contamination.*LTG