26 March 2010

Citizens' Group Backs Probe on ‘Toxic’ Flour Imports from Turkey

Quezon City. A citizens' health and environmental advocacy group today pressed the authorities to act fast amid snowballing public concern over the importation and use of potentially “toxic” flour from Turkey.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the country’s health, trade and customs officials to assure the public that flour used in common food itemslike pan de sal and noodles are fit for human consumption and will not cause health problems for consumers.

“We join Sen. Pimentel in asking the authorities to work doubly hard in getting to the bottom of this toxic food threat, which should be regarded as an urgent national health issue that can harm our consumers, particularly the poor,” said Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. last Sunday urged the government to look into the reports that consumer health is put at risk with the use of “contaminated and potentially toxic Turkish flour.”

Parañaque Rep. Eduardo Zialcita and Manila Re. Amado Bagatsing have later joined the Senate minority leader in demanding decisive government action to halt the entry of the “toxic” Turkish flour as a precautionary step.

“While samples of flour imports from Turkey are still being tested in laboratories, we would like to ask our health experts to issue a health advisory that will properly inform and caution the public about the risks of consuming products contaminated with mycotoxins that Turkish flour supposedly contain,” Dizon pointed out.

Sen. Pimented cited a report entitled "Total Aflatoxin, Aflatoxin B1 and Ochratoxin A Levels in Turkish Wheat Flour," published by the Journal of Food and Drug (Vol. 16, No. 2, 2008), showing Turkish flour as tainted with mycotoxins "known to exert toxic effect on human and animal health."

A paper published in the Clinical Microbiology Reviews describes mycotoxins such as aflatoxin and ochratoxin A as capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Consumption of aflatoxin, a mycotoxin, can cause aflatoxicosis. Acute aflatoxicosis can lead to death, while chronic aflatoxicosis can result to cancer, immune suppression and other “slow” pathological conditions.

Ochratoxin A is known to be a nephrotoxin (a toxin that can harm kidney cells) to animals studied so far. Animal studies indicate that ochratoxin A is also a liver toxin, an immune suppressant, a potent teratogen, and a carcinogen.

-end-

Reference:
“Mycotoxins” by J. W. Bennett and M. Klich,
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164220/

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