Yesterday was World Health Day, and this year’s observance focused on a basic but often overlooked matter: food safety.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments, the food industry and consumers to put primary importance to food safety, as it reported that diseases caused by unsafe food claim some two million lives globally each year.
Dr. Shin Young-soo, director of the WHO regional office for the Western Pacific, of which the Philippines is part, said that everyone along the food chain, from farm to plate, must take responsibility for food safety.
While food producers, manufacturers and traders are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products, consumers should also “take preventive measures and follow good food safety practices,” Shin said.
This is timely advice.
Many consumers are very cavalier about their food sources’ hygiene and sanitation practices. They hardly read ingredients and expiration dates. While experts say expiration dates do not necessarily mean items are no longer edible or safe a few days or weeks after, still the information is useful. Caution is certainly required when you have, for instance, something that is two years past its expiration date.
Contaminated food, Shin pointed out, has caused more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to chronic ailments including cancer.
Olivia La’O Castillo wrote that she’s glad this column (April 1 issue) has reported airport hustlers who overcharge unwitting travelers. She said that in February she brought to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 some very important visitors from Graz, Austria. The group was flying to Palawan.
Castillo left as soon as her guests entered Terminal 3. But they found out that their plane was departing from Terminal 4, the old domestic airport.
When the foreigners returned, Castillo asked them about their trip to Palawan; they reluctantly replied that, to transfer from Terminal 3 to 4, they took a taxi and “were charged P1,000 for the short distance!”
This is the kind of experience that would tarnish whatever good impression tourists have of the Philippines. Naia authorities should keep in mind that it’s not just good facilities that travelers, including locals, expect and want from the country’s airports. Travelers also need to be protected from highway robbery and other unscrupulous practices of taxicabs.
Attention, Marikina mayor
A reader, who asked not to be identified, reacted to another issue raised in last week’s column—on blocked sidewalks that put pedestrians’ lives at risk.
She said that sidewalks on Dizon Street, a major road in Industrial Valley Subdivision in Marikina City, “were no longer passable because cars are parked on them! Pedestrians— including the handicapped— end up walking on the main road and are in jeopardy of being hit by passing cars. I don’t know why people completely cover the sidewalks with their vehicles; there’s even a commercial establishment, a pest control company that has turned the sidewalks into a parking lot for their vans.”
She wanted to call the attention of Mayor Del de Guzman and barangay officials
to this problem.
I hope the Marikina mayor and barangay officials would be more responsive to such complaints.
In Manila, past and present administrations have ignored the “grabbing” of sidewalks for various purposes. While I’m in favor of promoting entrepreneurship, businesses should not be allowed to appropriate sidewalks for their trades. Sidewalks are only for the use of people who have to walk to where they are going.
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