DA wants ‘fake’ vinegar removed from market

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2019   •   3692

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) wants the removal of fake vinegar from local markets.

This after the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) revealed the result of their tests on over 360 vinegar samples available in the Philippines.

The PNRI’s study showed that 8 out of 10 of the tested vinegar brands are fake or synthetic and not from natural sources.

Raymond Sucgang, Section Head of the PNRI Nuclear Analytical Techniques Applications Section explained that: “Condiments usually undergo the process of fermentation, and the raw materials must come from fruits and other natural products.”

His research team explained that vinegar and other condiments from natural or plant-based sources are safer than those derived from petroleum-based sources.

“One can only imagine all the impurities and residues from the petroleum by-products, which can be the source of various degenerative diseases,” he added.

The PNRI did not mention the brand names of the products used in the test but it assured that the results of the vinegar studies have already been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Vendors at Kamuning Market in Quezon City expressed concern on the health safety of their customers so they opt to sell branded vinegar, but some attest that there really are synthetic vinegar out in the market.

“Ang gusto po nilang mangyari dapat lahat ng mga tinitinda naming mga suka may mga brand na siya. May mga label, may expiration date, at saka may nakalagay kung ano ang ingredients,” noted stall owner Lizette Tedera.

(They require us to sell branded vinegar, equipped with label, expiration date and specific ingredients.)

“Mayroon talaga nyan. Hindi maiiwasan iyan kasi negosyo nila iyan. Iyong mga tinatakal-takal lang sa bote, iyon ang peke. May halong tubig at saka iyong gamot na hinahalo nila sa suka,” revealed Marrie Cleofe, also a store owner.

(It exists and it’s inevitable because it’s their business. Those sold in retail are synthetic. It contains water and a certain liquid used to make synthetic vinegar.)

But Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, in a statement, advised consumers “to exercise caution and discernment in buying vinegar from commercial establishments.”

Piñol stressed that pending the validation by the FDA of the study conducted by the PNRI, “a market advisory should be issued and the brands using Acetic Acid must be pulled out of the market” to ensure public safety as mandated under by the Food Safety Act of 2013.

The Agriculture Secretary recommends that consumers buy natural vinegar made out of coconut sap and water, sugarcane, nipa and fruits which are readily available in the market.

For its part, the Department of Health (DOH) said once the PNRI study has been validated by the FDA, they will order the pull out of vinegar brands proven synthetic from local markets.

The DOH stressed that only vinegar made from natural acetic acid are the ones allowed for sale and consumption, not those made with synthetic acetic acid.

At present, there are a total of 274 vinegar brands duly registered by the FDA.

“Kasi ang suka kapag ni-register sa FDA, ang classification natin kailangan dyan (gawa) sa natural fermentation ang acetic acid,” explained DOH Usec, Eric Domingo.

(For a vinegar (brand) to registered in FDA, its acetic acid content must be made through natural fermentation.)

“Kung totoo na mayroong mga brand dyan na gumagamit ng synthetic na acetic acid then mayroong mali sa kanilang labeling at saka sa kanilang rehistro at kailangan talaga nating imbestigahan,” Domingo concluded.

(If it’s true that some brands are using synthetic acetic acid, then it follows that there are errors in their labeling and registration thus we really need to investigate) – (with details from Rey Pelayo) Marje Pelayo

DA assures PH pork still safe for consumption

Marje Pelayo   •   August 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains that pork items in local markets are still safe for consumption despite reports of sudden pig deaths in some areas in the country.

“We assure the public that the meat in the market today is safe (because) it’s sourced from areas (that) are not infected,” assured Noel Reyes, spokesperson of Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The Department has already imposed a major disease protocol in the areas of concern though the DA has not yet named where the specific locations are and what have caused the pigs death.

In accordance with the protocol, all pigs within the 1 kilometer radius have already been culled while those within the 7 kilometer radius have been placed under control where entry and exit of pigs are prohibited.

Meanwhile, pig handlers within the 10 kilometer radius from the infected site are obliged to report immediately if there is pig mortality in their area.

Reyes said the DA suspected that the reported deaths of pigs could have been caused by ‘swill’ or food leftovers that’s why the DA advised all hog raisers to refrain from feeding their pigs with swill.

Reyes noted that hog raisers may have resorted to swill because it is cheaper.

The DA sais it may take up to two weeks to three months before the result of the confirmatory test on the infected pigs’ samples is released to determine what type of pig disease hit them.

The department assured that in the next bulletin, they will include details of assistance that affected hog raisers may avail to cope up with the problem. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

FDA eyes restricting sale of flavored e-cigarettes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Jerred Marsh (R) samples flavored vape juice from Nancy Reyes at the Vape Summit 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada May 2, 2015. REUTERS/David Becker/File Photo

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended to the 18th Congress to limit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Officer in Charge, Food and Drug Administration Usec. Eric Domingo said this is to prevent children from trying vaping.

Domingo said because of these flavors, the children might think it is safe to consume.

“Of course dapat hindi siya attractive to minors. Gusto natin wala iyong mga flavor na candy, flavor na minsan cheesecake. Hindi ba ganiyan iyong mga flavor nila which attract children(Of course it should not be attractive to minors. We do not want the candy flavor, or the cheesecake flavor. Aren’t those flavors very attractive to children?),” he said.

READ: House OKs tax hike on alcohol, vape products on third reading

The FDA also said that one of the most effective ways to prevent the youth from doing vices is to increase its taxes.

The House of Representatives already approved the excise tax hike on alcohol and vape products on the third reading.

Vape PH, meanwhile, said that higher taxes can only force people to go back to smoking.

“Heavy taxes on reduced-risk products will only result in smokers sticking it out with conventional cigarettes instead of switching to less harmful nicotine products,” their statement reads.

The Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) said there was no public consultation for the proposed bill.

“Our organization could have provided the resources and studies to aid House Representatives understand tobacco harm reduction strategies being embraced by some countries,” according to their statement.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

DA confirms swine deaths despite no declaration of hog-related disease

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is being careful when it comes to declaring what virus could have caused the latest infestation of pigs in the country.

According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, he was informed about the swine deaths last Friday (August 16) but he refused to name the exact location.

He assured, however, that the government is on top of the situation and is working to address the issue.

“Kung ano ang suspected na may disease ay kina-cull-out, inaalis, binu-bury at dini-disinfect ang lugar (The pigs suspected of the disease are culled out, removed (from the herd), and buried; then the place is disinfected),” according to Secretary Dar.

The secretary wants to see the result of the confirmatory test first being done by foreign experts before declaring what type or kind of disease has caused the deaths of the pigs.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), likewise, said they cannot risk committing mistakes by making hasty conclusions like what happened to other countries.

“September 2018 ay nagkamatayan din ang mga baboy sa Japan at ito ay naging national issue, naging international issue (In September 2018, swine deaths were reported in Japan and it became a national issue and had gotten international),” explained BAI Director Ronie Domingo.

“(Ang) ginawa nila, ang kanilang laboratory procedures, diagnosed that it was hog cholera. Pero 75,000 na ang kanilang na-cull na baboy, (What they did, based on their laboratory procedures, was diagnose that it was hog cholera. But they have already culled 75,000 pigs,)” he noted.

The confirmatory test may take up to two weeks to three months.

The possibility of African Swine Fever (ASF) infestation surfaced when the Taiwan government beefed up its customs regulations by banning entry of pork products and checking of carry-on baggage of travelers from the Philippines.

The DA maintains that the Philippines remains ASF free and has banned entry of pork products from 19 ASF-infected countries. – MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

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