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Department of Agriculture mulls use of quality seal on RP food products

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is considering the adoption of a National Quality Seal (NSQ) for food and other farm commodities to make sure that Philippine produce sold locally and abroad  meet high standards of product safety and quality.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said,   the NSQ would be applied on products such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains and nuts, livestock, poultry and animal by-products, cut flowers, fisheries, and non-food products such as organic fertilizer, coco coir and veterinary drug residues.

“This product certification project is now on the drawing boards with an eye on the eventual adoption of an official Philippine seal to attest to the high quality of Philippine food and non-food agricultural products,” Yap said.

“The NSQ will serve notice to all consumers that the DA has verified the quality of these selected Philippine products,” he added.

Additionally, “the NSQ will prompt local food industries to improve the quality of their products and earn the right to affix such a seal on their goods,” Yap said, adding “it will also help us penetrate more foreign markets for Philippine agricultural products as this seal will assure overseas consumers that what they are buying are of top quality.”

According to Yap, the DA would apply internationally recognized codes of agricultural and animal husbandry practices to come up with a set of product safety standards for Philippine produce.

During a recent management committee of the DA, director Gilberto Layese of the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standard reported to Yap that the stamping of quality seals on agricultural produce was pioneered by Thailand, which has successfully marketed their farm products through its “Q” mark system.

Malaysia has adopted the same practice through its campaign slogan for quality foods dubbed “Malaysia ’s Best,” while a similar program is also being implemented in Ireland through the Irish Food Board, Layese said.

“The NSQ, which will be registered with the Philippine Patent Office, is a key indicator of quality. From a consumer point of view, the quality mark on a product also indicates compliance to product safety standards,” Layese said.

Layese said producers, manufacturers, industry associations and similar bodies can use the NSQ on their products.

The mark may be presented on a commodity or its package or displayed in the establishment provided that the producer demonstrates compliance to the specific standard or quality system being implemented by the government.

The seal can also be used hand in hand with other certification schemes, Layese said.

The DA will create a task force to implement the NSQ program, and will later identify producers who are willing to pilot test the initiative.

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