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FDA warns against purchase, consumption of unregistered turmeric, ginger powder

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Turmeric powder| Photo by Simon A. Eugster on Wikimedia Commons

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the public against consumption of food products that were not registered and were not issued with proper authorization by the agency.

Specifically, the FDA advises consumers to be vigilant in purchasing ginger and turmeric powder or tea brands that are not checked by the agency in pursuant to R.A. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

Some brands of ginger tea and turmeric powder that are banned by the FDA include:

  • Dollie’s Pure Turmeric Powder, Sugar Free
  • Dollie’s Pure Turmeric Tea (Bag)
  • IJ Turmeric Products Turmeric Instant Herbal Tea
  • Turmeric Fortified With 95% Curcumin C3 Complex Dietary Supplement
  • G Stuff Turmeric and Ginger Tea
  • G Stuff Amazing Tea
  • Reyes Turmeric Tea

Ginger root is known for its powerful medicinal benefits aside from being one of the favorite spices in the world.

Turmeric, a yellow-colored root also from the ginger family, is not only a popular spice in East India and Middle Eastern cuisines, it also boasts of anti-inflammatory agents as well as other properties that are helpful in curing several conditions such menstrual problems, hemorrhaging, toothaches, bruises, chest pain, flatulence, blood in the urine, among others.

Based on the FDA post-marketing surveillance (PMS) activities, these “unregistered food products have not gone through evaluation and testing process” and the agency “cannot guarantee their quality and safety.”

“Consumption of such violative products may pose potential health hazard to the consuming public,” the FDA said on its website.

The agency reminds consumers to be cautious in buying and consuming unregistered food products and urges the public to always check and verify product registration through the FDA website www.fda.gov.ph.

Meanwhile, concerned establishments are warned not to sell such violative food products until they get proper registration and authorization.

Regulatory actions and sanctions shall be strictly pursued against violators.

The agency also asked local government units (LGU) and law enforcement agencies “to ensure that these products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction.”

List of other unregistered products banned by the FDA may be found on the agency’s official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FDAPhilippines/.

The public is further advised to report continuous sale or distribution of unregistered food products to www.fda.gov.ph/ereport, or send an e-mail to foodsafety@fda.gov.ph, or call the Center for Food Regulation and Research (CFRR) hotline (02) 857-1900 local 8115 and 8112. – Marje Pelayo

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FDA, PNRI urged to release list of synthetic vinegar brands

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

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)

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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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Stricter standards for vinegar brands—FDA

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to implement stricter standards for vinegar products sold in the Philippine market.

This was after reports that several vinegar products made from synthetic raw materials are harmful to health.

Before former FDA Director-General Nela Charade Puno was asked to step down from her post, she said the agency is waiting for the final report of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) which studied samples of some 360 vinegar brands.

READ: Duterte fires FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption

Puno added that they will also implement an intensive consumer awareness and education program.

FDA also warned of actions that will be taken against individuals who continue to sell unapproved vinegar products.

READ: Sacked FDA chief Puno denies corruption allegations

“Let me already tell the peddlers who will continue to sell vinegar products which will not pass the new FDA standards, there will be a major crackdown on these products followed by sustained regulatory enforcement action,” Puno said.

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