04 July 2011

Consumers Urged to Read Product Labels Carefully as FDA Raises Alarm over Tainted "Toyo"

A group promoting public health and safety from harmful chemicals advised consumers to read food product labels carefully before making any purchase.

The EcoWaste Coalition, following a recent reminder from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for consumers not to buy unlabeled soy sauce products due to possible carcinogenic ingredients, urged the public to be firm in demanding for information.

A chemical of concern in some tainted soy sauce products from China is 3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1, 2-diol or 3-chloro-1,2-propanediol), a chemical byproduct formed in foods that has been identified by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee for Food as a “suspected genotoxic carcinogen.”

As soon as the FDA advisory hit the news, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol on Sunday went to Quiapo, Manila to investigate if any unlabeled soy products are being sold in the area.

While relieved to find that most stores only sell locally-made soy sauce with proper labeling and packaging, an AlerToxic Patroller was able to buy a mislabeled bottle of what is claimed to be a “mushroom soy sauce” for P35 from a vendor in Villalobos St.

The original label of the said product, which has been posted in the EcoWaste Coalition’s website, was noticeably removed and replaced with a hand-written note that says “mushroom soy sauce.”

“The unbranded ‘mushroom soy sauce’ is definitely in violation of FDA’s mandatory labeling requirements for prepackaged food products and should not be sold in the market,” said Aileen Lucero of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Please take the time to read the label for facts that should help you in making an informed choice for your health and safety,” she emphasized.

“We have the right as consumers to enjoy access to complete and truthful product information and we should insist on it,” she pointed out.

"As added precaution against adulterated or contaminated soy sauce, consumers should refrain from buying repacked 'toyo' products," she added.

According to Article 74 of Republic Act 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, “the state shall enforce compulsory labeling and fair packaging to enable the consumer to obtain accurate information as to the nature, quality and quantity of the contents of consumer products.”

As a safety precaution, the EcoWaste Coalition encourages consumers to take a closer look at the label of prepackaged foods and check if the following requirements of the FDA as contained in Administrative Order No. 88-B, Series of 1984 are adhered to:

1. Name of the food
2. List of ingredients
3. Declaration of food additives
4. Net contents and drained weight
5. Name and address of manufacturer, packer and distributor
6. Lot identification

In addition, the FDA through Memorandum Circular No. 18, Series of 1994 requires the display of Food Registration Number of the label of prepackaged food products.

R.A. 7394 further requires additional labeling requirements for foods such as expiry or expiration date; a description whether the product is semi-processed, fully-processed, ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat, prepared food or just plain mixture; nutritive value, if any; information regarding the use of natural or synthetic ingredients; and other labeling requirements as may be deemed necessary and reasonable.

-end-

References:

On 3-MCPD:
http://www.fodevarestyrelsen.dk/fdir/Pub/2001901/rapport.htm

On FDA’s labelling requirements for prepackaged foods:

http://www.bfad.gov.ph/pdf/RegulatoryGuidance/food/ao/AO088-Bs.1984.pdf

http://www.bfad.gov.ph/pdf/RegulatoryGuidance/food/mc/MC18s1994.pdf

http://www.bfad.gov.ph/pdf/RegulatoryGuidance/food/mc/MC4s2002.pdf

On the Consumer Act of the Philippines:

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno7394.htm

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