SANITARY INSPECTIONS for small businesses will soon be devolved to local government units (LGUs) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with Quezon City piloting the program.

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), in a statement on Friday, said LGUs will be given the authority to conduct inspections on micro, small, and medium enterprises involved in processing low-risk food products.

The move is expected to address the backlog in FDA’s Center for Food Regulation & Research (CFRR) in releasing licenses to operate.

“Under current practice, LGUs are to conduct inspections for sanitary permitting apart from the inspections being done by FDA as part of the processing for the issuance of License to Operate (LTO),” the statement said.

“Through the deputization of inspection functions, LGUs would be able to inspect processing plants for issuance of FDA’s LTO, together with their inspection for sanitary permits, making LGUs as supervising body while retaining jurisdiction to FDA.”

ARTA said LGU inspectors will be trained and given a standard checklist for inspections based on FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.

ARTA Director-General Jeremiah B. Beligica met on Friday with the FDA, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Quezon City government’s health department, and the National Association of Business Permits and Licensing Office to discuss the steps towards deputization.

“Working together is the core of what we are doing in ARTA. That’s why we are grateful for FDA and Quezon City who have welcomed us and are leading the developments that we need to see in the government. Through this, we will be able to deliver faster and ultimately better service to the people,” Mr. Belgica said.

Low-risk food products for FDA registration, based on a 2016 circular, include certain fats, oils and fat emulsions; processed fruits; vegetable and edible fungi; confectionery; cereal-based products; processed meat and meat products; and bakery wares, among others. — Jenina P. Ibañez