Cebu News

Half-rice serving now required

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - In time for National Rice Awareness Month, the Cebu City Council has approved an ordinance requiring all establishments in the food serving industry in the city to include half-rice servings in their menu.

If concerned establishments would not comply with the newly passed measure authored by City Councilors Mary Ann delos Santos and Nendell Hanz Abella, owners may fined or run the risk of losing their business permits.

The first offense is meted the penalty of P1,500; second offense, P3,000; third offense, P4,000; fourth offense, P5,000; and fifth and final offense, suspension of the business permit for every month of continued non-compliance.

All food establishments in the city, however, were given three months to comply with the mandatory provisions of the ordinance.

Businesses such as restaurants, schools operating canteens, offices, hospitals, cafeterias, catering operations, fast-food chains and other food-related services are covered in the rice conservation measure.

Those offering eat-all-you-can rice, though, are exempted from the ordinance.  They, however, are required to inform their customers through the distribution of leaflets or flyers about the Rice Conservation Ordinance to encourage their patrons to conserve rice.

As transitory preparation, the City Health Department would conduct a monthly inspection to determine proper and full compliance by the concerned establishments.

The ordinance also sets that as public information and awareness campaign, half-rice serving should also be mandatorily contained in the menu and be made known by the attending service crew, waiter, waitress or cashier to the consumer before the latter makes his order.

The measure was in compliance with Presidential Decree 494 signed by President Benigno Aquino III on October 18, 2012 “Declaring the Year 2013 as the National Year of Rice and Directing the Department of Agriculture to lead its Celebration.”

The decree was signed “pursuant to the government’s aim to…encourage the general public to be responsible rice consumers in order to complement the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency,” read the decree.

Study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed that every Filipino wastes two tablespoons of cooked rice every meal.

In 2010, it said that wasted rice was equivalent to 13 percent (P6.2 billion) of the total rice imports of the same year or equivalent to the consumption of nearly 2.6 million Filipinos in a year.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has urged all public and private schools nationwide to take part in activities marking November as National Rice Awareness Month.

DepED wanted to teach students the value of rice and the hard work farmers put in to produce their staple food.

DepED-7 Director Carmelita Dulangon said any activity that concerns the students and the school are immediately disseminated to the teacher for implementation.

In a memorandum, Education Secretary Armin Luistro cited a Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) study that showed rice is generally wasted when too much of it is cooked so that some are left uneaten.

The month-long activity is meant to promote the “rice-ponsibility” of every Filipino, which is to stop wasting rice, to switch to the brown variety, to mix rice with other staples for better health, and to be mindful of the hard work the farmers put in to produce the crop.

PhilRice is leading the rice sector in renewing the commitment to help the country become rice self-sufficient next year in an effort themed “Sapat na Bigas, Kaya ng Pinas.”

The government’s Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program also said countries like Japan and China are rice-sufficient despite their small rice harvested per capita because of their citizens’ diversified diet.

The DA-7 has likewise advised all consumers to save rice as early as now because everyone is also affected if there is rice shortage.

Gerry Avila, DA-7 agriculture marketing and agribusiness division chief, said that the three tablespoon of cooked rice an average consumers wastes every meal is equivalent to 400,000 sacks of rice a year wasted in the country each year.

To help food production in the country, the DA is eyeing increased productivity in growing crops and animals to augment the needs of the Filipinos. — Kristine B. Quintas, Ria Mae Y. Booc/RHM (FREEMAN)

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