FDA, PNRI urged to release list of synthetic vinegar brands

Marje Pelayo   •   May 21, 2019   •   3923

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release the list of vinegar brands that are produced, not from natural fermentation and “biogenic” ingredients but from synthetic acetic acid, citing protection of local vinegar-makers and the safety of consumers.

“I believe that there is simply no legal or moral basis for FDA to withhold the release of the ‘sour condiment’ brands which PNRI (Philippine Nuclear Research Institute) found using non-biogenic acetic acid,” Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said on his social media account Tuesday (May 21).

The Secretary said: “The release of the names will not only be in compliance with the Consumer Protection laws but also the observance of that very basic provision in the Philippine Constitution which bestows upon every Filipino the Right to Know.”

“The list of the “non-biogenic sour condiments” being passed off as vinegar in the market, whether they are safe for human consumption or not, should be released now,” he added.

The Agriculture Secretary noted the Department of Health’s (DOH) statement that synthetic acetic acid-based vinegar is “not totally unsafe.”

Given that statement, Piñol said agencies concerned agreed that the classification standards for commercial vinegar sold in the market to be changed to “biogenic” for those which use acetic acid produced through a natural fermentation process and “non-biogenic” for those which are made out of synthetic compounds.

Piñol stressed that while vinegar is always understood as a sour-tasting liquid made from natural ingredients and process of fermentation, any other product which offers the “sour” taste but did not go through the natural fermentation process should be properly labeled as synthetic acetic acid or “sour non-biogenic” condiment.”

“Thus, it is my position as Secretary of Agriculture that sour condiments made out of synthetic or non-biogenic acetic acid should not be labeled as “vinegar” or “suka,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, consumer group Laban Konsyumer expressed its support to the DA in its call for the release of the list of vinegar brands using “non-biogenic” acetic acid given that the PNRI claims that such ingredients do not cause cancer or harm consumers’ health.

The group’s president Atty. Vic Dimagiba also called on the agencies to take responsibility and address the public for the confusion that the issue has caused.

“Dapat din humingi ng paumanhin sa publiko ang PNRI sa maling ulat na galing sa kanila dahil nagdulot ito ng pagkabahala o anxiety sa mga konsyumers,” Dimagiba said.

(The PNRI should make a public apology because of their erroneous report that caused panic or anxiety to consumers.)

“Sa FDA at DOH, ilathala din ang sinabi nilang mislabeling violation ng mga bramds ng suka at recall and patawan ng multa ayon sa Food Safety Law at Consumer Act,” he concluded.

(The FDA and DOH should also publish what they claim as mislabeling violation of these brands of vinegar, recall and fine them according to the Food Safety Law and Consumer Act.) – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DOH Region 3: Over 100 Chinese workers, now dengue free

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019

The Department of Health (DOH) Region 3 has reported that the over 100 Chinese workers who contracted dengue in Morong, Bataan are now free of the disease.

The Chief of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of DOH Region 3 Dr. Jessie Fantone said 69 of the Chinese workers have contracted dengue last March. The remaining 35 were reported to have contracted the diseases this August.

“All of them got well and wala namang namatay. Kaya lang noong pinuntahan namin iyong plant nila marami silang areas na stagnant water na breeding sites (There were no fatalities, but when we visited their plant, there was a lot of stagnant water which can be become breeding sites),” he said.

Meanwhile, cleaning operations continue at the barangay where the coal plant is located.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

FDA eyes ban of food-inspired flavors for 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 ban food-inspired juice flavors for 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)

Leptospirosis case now over 900; NKTI gym, converted into leptos ward

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has turned its gymnasium into an alternative ward for leptospirosis patients.

This is to accommodate patients with leptospirosis and be provided with immediate treatment for the deadly disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the recent rains that caused flooding had contributed to the increase in the number of leptospirosis patients in Metro Manila alone.

To date, the DOH has recorded 106 fatalities and more than 900 cases of leptospirosis. 300 of which are from the NCR.

“It’s really a problem because you know the environmental, sanitation and hygiene do affect the health of our people because the local government, for example, do not do their efficient garbage collection, so certainly it raises the risk of the populace,” DOH Sec. Francisco Duque added.

This, however, is still low compared to what was recorded last year in the last 2 years.

The DOH then urged the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective surroundings to prevent leptospirosis. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

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