Ambulant vendors should not be allowed to bring or sell food items inside campuses, the Department of Education (DepEd) reminded school administrators on Friday, July 17, following the suspected food poisoning of at least students in a public school in Quezon City.
The prohibition against ambulant vendors inside school premises has been existing since 2005, DepEd said in a statement, citing administrative orders issued in 2005 and 2007.
Reports said at least 40 students showed signs of food poisoning on Thursday, July 16, after eating macapuno candy balls Juan Sumulong High School in Cubao, Quezon City.
Tonisito Umalim, DepEd assistant secretary and chief of staff, said in a phone interview with NewsCentral.ph that the agency had released a number of orders in the past concerning the banning of vendors from selling foods inside school premises.
“One of the school orders is the strict prohibition for vendors from selling food inside the school’s premises. It can only be done by the school canteen. Even tasting of food is likewise prohibited,” Umali told NewsCentral.ph
“That is already banned and we do not have to issue another order on that. We have DepEd orders issued in 2005 and 2007,” Umali said.
Citing DepEd Order No. 14 series of 2005, which is about the Instruction to Ensure Consumption of Nutritious and Safe Food Schools, it states that “Presidential Decree No. 856, also known as the Code of Sanitation of the Philippines, allows ambulant food vendors to sell only bottled drinks, biscuits, and confectionaries and other pre-packed foods. They are prohibited from selling foods that require utensils.”
In 2007, the DepEd Order released in 2005 was revised, noting a stricter policy on ambulant vendors.
According to DepEd Order No. 8 issued in 2007 about the Revised Implementing Guidelines on the Operation and Management of School Canteens in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, it states that “vendors shall not be allowed to bring in food items inside the school canteen/premises,” a stricter policy as compared to the 2005 version.
The 2007 DepEd order also states that “teachers and school personnel are likewise prohibited from selling food items within the school premises, except through the school canteen and unless authorized and covered by a written agreement with the school head/principal and/or the teachers’ cooperative.”
When asked on how the DepEd would act in light with the food poisoning of 40 students in Juan Sumulong High School, Umali said they would investigate on the matter.
“We have more or less 48,000 schools nationwide so I think it would be wrong to assume this is something that happens usually. We are going to investigate on this,” Umali assured.