A look into food safety of Taft-area restaurants

A quick walk around the Taft Avenue area reveals a plethora of dining establishments available to students of De La Salle University (DLSU). Most restaurants offer food for cheap prices and offer a wide variety of options. While these may entice the budget-conscious Lasallian, many students still value the cleanliness and physical upkeep of these dining establishments.

DSC_8923 [1600x1200]

Different moods, different food

There are many considerations a student makes when deciding where to eat during his or her breaks. Mostly, students consider the cost of a meal or what he or she is craving for the day. Charles Tiu (III, IE) shares in Filipino, “If I want to eat something, like steak or laksa, I’ll go to the restaurant where they serve whatever I’m craving for, even if the restaurant is far.”

Jillian Roy (I, AEF) considers the convenience in grabbing a meal. “If it takes too long to get to a certain dining establishment, but them I have time to go there, I would go,” she shares, adding that the serving size, food quality, and value for money are also important to her.

Many Lasallians also take into consideration food safety and the cleanliness of the dining establishments they will patronize. With the limited number of restaurants available around DLSU, unlike in the area of Katipunan or España, students feel the need to be more particular in deciding where to eat everyday.

Candice Leocadio (IV, CAM) mentions that she is wary of the cleanliness of both the food a restaurant serves and the establishment itself when deciding where to eat during her breaks. “I fear that I’ll be getting a disease from eating something unsanitary,” she adds.

“I prefer not to eat at the tabi-tabi restaurants or those that seem sketchy. I’d rather eat at places that look clean and [where] a lot of people eat because at least I know it’s safe,” Rizanne Rafael (IV, CAM) echoes.


From bad to worse

Students seeing undesirable objects and unsanitary practices in dining establishments have been the topic of stories commonly exchanged by those in the University. *Jerome is fond of Chinese food and is a regular customer at one of the restaurants in EGI Taft Tower. He mentions that he has had experiences of seeing small cockroaches in the dining establishment he frequents. “If you think about it, for a restaurant near a school to have cockroaches, it is unacceptable,” he highlights.

Jerome also shares an instance when he experienced food poisoning after eating at one of the more popular hole-in-the-wall establishments near the University. He recounts that he always orders the same thing in the restaurant, but during the time he ate there and got ill, the food item he usually orders tasted different.

The two establishments where Jerome had bad dining experiences turned down The LaSallian’s efforts to have their sides of the story explained.

Haato Katsu + Ramen manager Yeye Ocampo, a restaurant also located at EGI Taft Towers, explains that they buy fresh produce every day and it is part of their operational process to double-check the food items that come out of their kitchen. In addition, she shares that she goes to work looking presentable at all times in hopes of motivating her co-workers to do the same.

Gilbert Munoz, the manager of Tori Box, shares that there are additional hygienic requirements followed by people assigned to work in their kitchen. Orders are also prepared by senior chefs to promote food safety. In the same vein, Big Daddy’s Ryan Malgsik says that they make sure to store their uncooked food properly to prevent contamination. Those in charge of food preparation are also required to wash their hands after every service.

Haato Katsu + Ramen, Toribox, and Big Daddy’s attest that they try their best to maintain physical cleanliness in their restaurants by immediately bussing the tables after customers leave the establishment, and by regularly sweeping the floors and wiping the countertops.


Government guaranteed

Sanitation Division Officer-in-Charge of the Manila Health Department Clemente San Gabriel Jr., enumerates the process a restaurant will undergo to retain the permit to operate awarded to them. “Restaurants are subject to regular routine health inspections. They’re required to pass 50 percent of the requirements under the Sanitation Code of the Philippines. If they fail to meet the criteria, the Sanitation Division will recommend that these restaurants close down,” San Gabriel quips. The Sanitation Division is also responsible for guiding dining establishments to correct their sanitation deficiencies, if any.

San Gabriel explains the importance of complying with sanitary requirements, since it related to determining food safety, “Contamination starts in the kitchen. For example, if the restaurant staff was unable to wash the utensils properly, or if the cook just wiped off the oil or sauce on plates, instead of washing them, it would attract bacteria and cockroaches to thrive in the preparation area. These instances could lead to serving contaminated food,” the Sanitation Division head illustrates.

He also stresses the importance of having a sanitary permit. “A sanitary permit signifies that no customer will get sick when he or she eats at a restaurant,” San Gabriel highlights. Majority of the food establishments within the vicinity of DLSU own a sanitation permit. Restaurant managers are also educated about safety measures being mandated by the city hall.

San Gabriel urges that students should not patronize food establishments without sanitary permits and that they should value food cleanliness over cheap prices. He argues that establishments with many patrons tend to neglect to comply with sanitary requirements because they could still earn income despite not following the sanitation code. He recommends that DLSU students should be more active in reporting sanitation cases by contacting his division. He assures that they will immediately take necessary actions to ensure food safety along Taft Ave.


*Names were changed to protect the identity of the students


Iliana Tan

By Iliana Tan

Gabriel Hipolito

By Gabriel Hipolito

One reply on “A look into food safety of Taft-area restaurants”

Leave a Reply