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DA wants ‘fake’ vinegar removed from market

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

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

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Source: Minor revamp looms in Duterte Cabinet

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 38th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on June 10, 2019. Courtesy PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – A minor reshuffle is expected to take place soon in the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte, a highly placed source said on Monday.

The source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to divulge this information to media, said Duterte is mulling over moving some officials amid ongoing evaluation of all departments’ performances.

The source said the revamp may include Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, who may be transferred to the Mindanao Development Authority.

The President may announce the possible Cabinet revamp next month, the source said. (with details from Grace Casin)

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Captain of sunken boat in Recto Bank says sorry to Duterte

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The captain of the Filipino fishing boat hit by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank on June 9 apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte following reports that he snubbed the Chief Executive in their supposed meeting in Malacanang.

F/B GEM-VER 1’s boat captain Jonel Insigne said he didn’t know that it was Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol who asked to meet him and not the President.

“Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin sa ating mahal na presidente na hindi pala ako ipinatawag niya kundi si Secretary Piñol ang nagpatawag sa akin,” Insigne said.

“Hindi po ako natuloy, umatras ako dahil masama ang pakiramdam ko,” he added.

This was clarified by the Secretary himself during the hand over of assistance to the affected fishermen in San Jose, Oriental Mindoro on Wednesday (June 19).

“There was no any invitation from Malacañang. It was I, the Secretary of Agriculture, who wanted to talked to them and they came,” Piñol said.

The group of fishermen, through Insigne, appealed to President Duterte to help them and bring justice to what they have suffered at sea.

“Gusto ko po sana mapanagot po iyong kapitan nang bumangga sa amin, iyon lang po ang hiling ko sa ating mahal na presidente.” Insigne said. (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

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Canned pork seized from OFW positive for African Swine Fever virus

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Confiscated canned pork products that tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus | Courtesy : Secretary Manny Piñol’s Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol confirmed on Friday (June 12) that the canned pork products confiscated last March 25 at the Clark International Airport have tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

Piñol said that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported the detection of the ASF virus from the confiscated canned pork products brought in by a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Hong Kong.

The Agriculture Chief cited a report by Dr. Rachel Azul of BAI’s Virulogy Section saying “the viral DNA was isolated in pork luncheon meat and was tested using the ASF Taqman PCR Asssay at the ADDRL,” a procedure validated by laboratories in the United Kingdom and is widely used in countries in Asia for detection of ASF virus.

Azul clarified, however, that the detection of the ASF virus in the confiscated canned pork does not change the Philippine’s status as an “African Swine Fever-free” nation.

“So far, no African swine fever infections have been reported in pigs in the country,” she said as posted by Secretary Piñol.

“The seizure is a warning for the industry and an acknowledgment of the catastrophic threat on our doorsteps. If introduced, ASF would have a significant impact on pig health and production and contribute to enormous economic losses,” she added.

In a separate post, Secretary Piñol defended the Bureau of Quarantine for imposing strict screening procedures at airports as preventive measure against the the entry of the deadly pig virus.

“Kung nakalusot po ito at naipakain sa mga alagang baboy ang tira-tira, maaring kumalat ang sakit sa ating mga babuyan at magiging sanhi ng pagkasira ng ating hog industry,” he said.

(If leftovers of these products were fed to our livestock, the virus could have spread and harm our hog industry.)

“Doon po sa mga nagsasabing nag-o-over react lang kami at nagrereklamo sa mga mahigpit na quarantine protocols, ito po ang patunay na meron talaga tayong kinakaharap na panganib,” he added.

(To those who are accusing us of over reacting and were complaining against strict quarantine protocols, this is the proof that there is really danger ahead of us.)

READ: Ban on pork, pork-based products from ASF-infected countries still in effect – DA

Piñol asked all returning Filipinos to yield to quarantine officers at the airport.

“Huwag na po tayong maging pilosopo at matigas ang ulo. Sumunod po tayo sa mga quarantine officers sa mga airport,” he appealed.

(Let us not argue and don’t be hard-headed. Let us just follow the quarantine officers at the airport.)

“Bawal na po magpasok ng mga delata at processed pork products sa bansa. Huhulihin po kayo at pagmumultahin,” he concluded.

(It is prohibited to bring canned and processed pork products into the country. You will be arrested and fined.)

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