Food Safety Regulations Series: The Philippines

Monday, January 15th, 2018

To better understand the food regulatory landscape in Asia, APFI has spoken to law firms that specialise in food law from five different countries across Asia, which include China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. By Farah Nazurah

In the fifth and final part of the series, we look at food safety regulations in the Philippines. John Cabilao, partner, BCCS Law, share his advice.

How do food regulation and registration vary depending on the product or category?


In the Philippines, food products are generally classified into two categories, namely: primary production and post-harvest stages of the food supply chain; and processed food. Each category is regulated by different government agencies.

Regulation of primary production and post-harvest stages of the food supply chain falls under the Department of Agriculture and its regulatory agencies depending on the specific type of food involved. For instance, the Bureau of Plant Industry regulates fresh plants, the National Meat Inspection Service regulates meats, and the Bureau of Animal Industry is responsible for food derived from animals, including eggs and honey production.

On the other hand, regulation of processed food as well food product packaging activities falls under the Department of Health (DOH), particularly its regulatory arm, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA categorises food products based on risk—low risk food, medium risk food, and high risk food. The higher the risk level, the higher the level of regulation.

In either of the general food categories, the necessary licenses and product registrations need to be obtained from the appropriate government agency having jurisdiction over the food product involved.  

Have you observed any growth in the number of food and beverage companies entering the market in the Philippines?


Yes, we’ve seen a steady growth in the entry of food and beverage companies in the Philippine market over the last five to ten years, particularly in the manufacturing and retail sectors, mostly through the formation of strategic alliances with Philippine partners and establishment of subsidiary/affiliate companies to make their products commercially available locally.

What regulatory hurdles should manufacturers be aware of when entering the food market in the Philippines?


Apart from complying with business setup requirements at the national and local government levels, food manufacturers (of processed food) need to secure the necessary licenses and market authorisations from the FDA before they can actually engage in food manufacturing activities.  The FDA licensing and market authorisations procedure is a tedious and time-consuming process entailing submission of various technical documents and compliance with regulatory requirements. For this purpose, it is essential for food manufacturers to work with an FDA-Qualified Person in Industry Regulatory Affairs (QPIRA) for proper guidance.

Do you predict any changes to Philippines’s food industry in the near future?


We anticipate major changes in terms of focus on food safety, quality and production efficiency as the industry makes use of new developments in food processing technology to meet high food supply demand and Filipino consumers’ increasing preference for fresh, minimally processed foods and specialty foods.

As food safety is of top importance to consumers (amidst recent food scandals), how can manufacturers ensure their products are safe and traceable for consumers?


Food manufacturers need to regularly review their supply chain from ‘farm to market’ and ensure compliance with proper standards at each step of the way. With the supply chain now global in scope, they should look to tap innovations in technology systems to better manage food safety and traceability.

Food manufacturers should also consider providing access to relevant data such as the source of the foods and other value added information in order to elevate consumer confidence about what they are eating. This will ensure transmittal of accurate facts and information, and not peddled myths especially those on the internet and social media.