DAVAO City is the first in the country to have implemented Republic Act (RA) 8976, otherwise known as "An Act Establishing the Philippine Food Fortification Program."

The award was given in a ceremony held recently at Grand Men Seng Hotel to give due recognition to stakeholders' compliance to the Rice Fortification Program.

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RA 8976 sets the implementation of providing iron-fortified rice on food establishments with the compliant support of rice producers through the leadership of local government units.

Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Regional Director Teogenes Baluma and National Food Authority-Davao City (NFA) Manager Filemon Cangrejo gave recognition to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for having implemented a local Task Force on Food-Fortification, which became the ruling hand that made the food-fortification in the city a success.

"We are aiming that by 2011, the food fortification program will be fully implemented. We aim that all rice that is sold here would be fortified or at least there will be an availability of iron-fortified rice in all selling points," Baluma said in his speech.

Baluma said the aim of the program is to reduce health complications of the population through the availability and use of iron-fortified basic commodities, such as rice, sugar, flour, and salt.

"It is estimated that iron-deficiency caused anemia is present among seven out of 10 children within six months old to 11 months old; and three out of 10 children who are five months to five years suffers the same. The same is experienced by four out of 10 women who are undergoing their pregnancy. Iron is an essential nutrient to ensure that children and babies have correct brain function. Help us make these instances be eliminated," Baluma said.

Cangrejo also thanked the strong cooperation between the DOH, NFA, the local government, National Nutrition Council, Bureau of Food and Drugs, its partner civic groups, and Task Force on Food Fortification, which is chaired by Duterte, for having exerted much effort to make the program existent.

"It is understandable that with every new law, there will be complaints. But we were able to surpass that. We have worked hard on this and we will do more to make iron fortification faithfully practiced in the city," Cangrejo said.

The food establishments recognized to have complied with the program are, for food category: Chowking, McDonalds, Mercorner, Sweet Temptations, Mandarin Bolton, Rai Rai Ken, Pizza Hut; for hotels and resort category: Felis Beach Resort was the first resort, Royal Mandaya Hotel was first hotel to comply, Grand Regal Hotel, Grand Men Seng Hotel; for hospitals: Davao Doctors Hospital, Davao Medical Center, Limso Hotel Davao City, CHDC Hospital, San Pedro Hospital, Brokenshire Hospital.

For the rice traders, Sorongon Rice Traders, HLC Traders, Penco Enterprise, RF Grace Toril. For schools, Sped Bangkal was the first to comply, Kapitan Tomas Monteverde, San Roque Central Elementary School, F.Hizon Elementary School, Calinan Central Elementary School, Matina Central Elementary School.

Also recognized are Gaisano South Citi Mall, NCCC Uyanguren, NCCC Mall Matina, Gaisano Mall of Davao, Felcris, Chimes Sales, Victoria Plaza, SM Mall of Davao, Robinsons Cybergate.

Special award for first to comply before take-off are Goldilocks, Iron Horse, NCCC Fastfood Unyanguren, Nanay Bebeng SM Davao, Smoke n Toppings, Jackridge, Penongs at Camua, Lorings Gaisano South, Up Town Buhangin, Walkman SM, Island Grill Illustre, and Red Ribbon. (JCZ)