Saturday, May 18, 2019

DA to Meet with DOST, DOH, DTI on Fake Vinegar Issues

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will officially request a multi-agency meeting on Monday which would include the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Trade and Industry to address reports that "fake" vinegar products using the synthetic Acetic Acid are being sold in the market.

The meeting is an offshoot of a study conducted by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), an agency of the DOST, which said that many commercial vinegar brands use synthetic Acetic Acid in producing the popular Filipino condiment "Suka."

A news item which was posted by said:

"A study made by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has established that of the 17 vinegar brands tested in the Philippines, most of them were made from “synthetic” sources, not from natural sources. Thus, they are “fake” and adulterated vinegar.

"And they are dangerous to peoples’ health.

"Only three brands passed PNRI’s (DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute) nuclear-based analysis: 15 brands were manufactured using synthetic acetic acid, which is a raw material for making vinyl, among other products. Synthetic acetic acid is a by-product of petrochemicals.

"PNRI, which conducted the tests, said these adulterated brands contain elements that can cause “various degenerative diseases.”

"However, PNRI did not identify the brands that are deemed “fake” based on the agency’s “Isotope Studies” because naming them is against the law. Moreover, the tests were done using only codes for the products bought from across the country."

Since it is not PNRI's mandate to issue advisories on matters of food safety, the DA through the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) headed by Director Vivencio Mamaril will initiate a move to establish standards of vinegar, an agricultural product.

The DA will also officially ask DOST-PNRI to submit the list of vinegar brands using Acetic Acid and passing these off as natural vinegar which then will be referred to the DOH which has supervision over the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

The position of the DA Secretary on the controversy is 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.

This is where DTI which has the mandate to monitor products sold in the market will come in.

These moves are supported by the provisions of the Food Safety Act of 2013 or Republic Act 10611 whose main objective is "public protection from food and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods."

Pending the results of the meeting, the consumers are advised to exercise caution and discernment in buying vinegar from commercial establishments.

Natural vinegar made out of coconut sap and water, sugarcane, nipa and fruits are readily available in the market.

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