Visayas State University, true to its thrust as a research academe, recently launched the first Food Testing Laboratory in Eastern Visayas.

In partnership with the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the facility located at VSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology was opened on March 14, 2019.

The Shared Service Facility (SSF), a nationwide project of DTI, aims to “improve the competitiveness of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing them with machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills, and knowledge under a shared system”.

VSU, as a cooperator, would provide the needed technical assistance to these enterprises.

The food testing lab is a new addition to the four SSFs granted to and handled by VSU and is considered as one of the recent key accomplishments of the university.

The testing lab would be vital in research and development of new food products including the choice of ingredients or components, the design of food processing, shelf life studies, and sensory evaluation of food products. The food testing lab is designed to ensure public health and safety of consumers.

Through this grant, the MSMEs can now assure the quality of their food products, allowing them to easily conform and comply with the set of standards mandated by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

VSU President Edgardo E. Tulin, in his welcome message, said that through the expertise of the faculty and staff of the DFST, and the help of DTI and the development drivers in the region, the university’s ambition for MSMEs is very close to realization.

“VSU takes pride in developing these technologies and in assisting our food processors in all of these ventures. However, we realized that developing these technologies—food products are not enough. We have to put science-based standardization and quality assessment of these products,” Dr. Tulin said.

The SSFs benefit more than 130,000 MSMEs all over the country. According to DTI, half of its 80M budget in 2018 was allocated to the SUCs in the establishment of various facilities including Food Testing Laboratories.

DTI Assistant Secretary Blesila A. Lantayona emphasized the need of MSMEs to secure their License to Operate (LTO) and Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) for them to engage and become globally competitive in the exportation of valued delicacies and food products in the region.

“The FTL to be managed by the DFST of VSU will provide technical assistance in food processing enterprises in relation to the set standards of good manufacturing practices, and assist in meeting and complying with FDA requirements for applications or renewal of the license (LTO), and for certificate (CPR), to be able to sell their products in formal markets and have an opportunity to expand their business,” she added.

Mora C. Abarquez, Baybay City’s focal person on Gender and Development, revealed that SSFs have been beneficial especially for women in the city, opening up employment opportunities for them and allowing them to get involved in the livelihood initiatives of the government. Women, often relegated to the background, can now actively participate in improving the economic conditions of the household.

DTI Head Office key officials, DTI Leyte Provincial Office staff, DTI Regional Officers, VSU key officials, faculty and staff, students, and the MSMEs in the province attended the launching.

MSMEs were also invited to a two-day seminar on food safety and a field trip on the facility by the DTI’s Go Negosyo as a requirement for their application to secure an LTO and CPR.