DOST makes food, water testing accessible in MIMAROPA
By: Charlotte F. Pizarras, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office
Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office
MIMAROPA locals no longer have to travel across neighboring regions to have their food products and water samples tested following the formal opening of the Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory (RSTL) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, director of DOST-MIMAROPA, spearheaded the inauguration ceremony last March 6, 2019.
Gracing the event were DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Dr. Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano and Palawan Vice Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates who served as the guests of honors. Also present were Puerto Princesa City Administrator Carlos Abogado, several directors from other regional offices and representatives from regional line agencies (RLAs).
“It might be a stretch to say that, along with our continuous pursuit of excellence and extensive promotion, this state-of-the-art laboratory will become the innovation haven for MIMAROPA people who would want to make a breakthrough with their businesses, researches, and community initiatives,” exclaimed Dr. Abilay.
Usec. Manzano further stressed the need to intensify the promotion activities for RSTL. “We need to show them and prove to them that we are doing the mandate. If people will not come here and avail of our services, then it will just be a waste of our investment,” said Usec. Manzano.
In his speech, Vice Governor Socrates expressed his gratitude to the DOST for establishing the RSTL which is, according to him, “a really big favor to the province of Palawan and other provinces in the region.”
The MIMAROPA Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory
The first publicly owned testing laboratory in the region houses the three state-of-the-art specialized laboratories in the areas of microbiology, physico-chemical, and metrology.
“Since it opened its doors in 2013, we have already conducted 2,166 tests and calibrations serving 488 customers, more particularly from the food industries, petroleum trading, and research communities,” shared Dr. Abilay
Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay said that the establishment of the Regional Standards and Testing laboratory (RSTL) aims to ensure the production of globally competitive products and research outputs in the region.
The microbiology laboratory offers various examinations of pathogens and spoilage organisms in food and food products to support MSMEs in meeting food safety standards for public health.
On the other hand, drinking water and wastewater can also be tested and analyzed in the microbiology and physico-chemical laboratory. Such tests are used to monitor changes in water quality and determine whether it is suitable for its intended use such as direct human consumption, recreation, agriculture, aquaculture, and navigation.
Dr. Abilay pointed out that these tests are important to minimize the risk of contamination to protect human health and increase consumer confidence in products.
Also available in the metrology laboratory are mass and volumetric calibration for haulers and traders to ensure fair trade in goods and petroleum products.
This year, the RSTL is slated to expand with a temperature and pressure testing lab.
A PEEK INTO THE MICROBIOLOGY LAB: (Left) Hot Plate and Colony Counter; (Right) Biosafety Cabinet
One-stop shop services
RSTL caters to an extensive range of clients in the region—namely, the local food industry, tourism establishments, clinics and birthing homes, student researchers, Local Government Units (LGUs), Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), mining companies, and construction companies.
With the laboratory’s special service called the One Stop Shop Laboratory Services for Global Competitiveness (OneLab), clients from other provinces do not need to travel to Palawan to have their samples tested as they can just go to their nearest provincial S&T center (PSTC).
Respective PSTCs will then facilitate in sending these samples to RSTLs, Research and Development Institutes (RDIs), other government laboratories and even to private laboratories in the Philippines and abroad—whichever lab facility could provide for their testing requirements in the shortest possible time.
On meeting national and local standards
Having been granted the ISO/IEC 17025:2005, Dr. Abilay said that the laboratory, with its guaranteed accurate and reliable results, can ensure that the quality of local products meets the international market standards.
To further boost competency and reliability, DOST-MIMAROPA will push for the accreditation of the facility with the Department of Health (DOH) by the end of May for its water testing.
Aside from the DOH accreditation, it is working on securing a certificate of recognition from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as an environmental laboratory, an accredited laboratory for environmental monitoring and research activities.