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May 24, 2019
Dr. Rolando Enrique D. Domingo, DPBO
Undersecretary of Health
Office of the Chief of Staff and Health
Regulation Team &
Officer in Charge
Food and Drug Administration
Subject: List of Vinegar tested with synthetic acid
This is to confirm and reiterate our pleading for the public disclosure of the brands of vinegar which were tested to contain synthetic acid. The pleadings were released in all media and social platforms including a viber text from the undersigned to the Undersecretary.
In this letter, our pleading is expanded to include all brands tested and to indicate which brands are tested positive with synthetic acid and brands with natural ingredients.
Sir, Article 84 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines or Republic Act No.7394 on additional labelling requirements for food products provide in paragraph ( d) “ whether the ingredients used are natural or synthetic , as the case maybe “ . Further, Article 85 of the same law considers a food shall be deemed mislabeled when ( a) “ if its labeling or advertising is false or misleading in any way “, and (k) “ if it bears or contains an artificial flavoring, artificial coloring , or chemical preservative, unless it bears labeling stating that fact xxxxx” . Violation of this labelling requirements carry administrative fines and imprisonment under Article 95 of the Consumer Act, i.e. fine of not less than Php 500.00 but nor more than Php 20,000 , or imprisonment of not less than 3 months or not more than 2 years , at the discretion of the court.
On the other hand, Republic Act No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 , section 3 under Objectives, the Act provide that (a) to protect the public from xxxx misbranded or adulterated foods, and , (b) enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system . Under Section 4 (aa) Misbranding refers to “deliberate labeling or advertising of food that is misleading, where the labeling and /or advertising claims certain food properties that cannot be supported by reliable source, a certifying body or by scientific evidence. Sections 5 and 6 of the Food Safety Act, enumerated the Basic Principles of Food Safety in determining whether food is unsafe or safe for human consumption , i.e. (5), the information provided to the consumers, the information provided in the label or any information generally available to the consumers. This should aid consumers in avoiding specific health effects from a particular food or category of foods. And in Section 8, the protection of the consumers towards the prevention of practices which mislead the consumers, and for the agency to provide the consumers a basis to make informed choices in relation to the food they purchase.
Sir, the regulatory environment requires your agency to immediately release to the pubic the test results performed by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute or PNRI. Section 11 of Rep Act 10611 on Transparency requires the regulatory authorities in ( b ) “ where it is suspected that food may pose a risk to human health , it shall inform the general public about the nature of the risk to health, the affected foods, types of foods , and the necessary measure to prevent , reduce or eliminate the risks.
There are hefty fines and penalties for mislabeled food products under Section 37 (e ) on prohibited acts and 38 of Republic Act 10611 ranging from a low of Php 50,000 to 300,000 depending on the frequency of violation as well as suspension and revocation of food registration.
Finally, under the general principles of the Freedom of Information Executive Order No. 2, there should be prompt disclosure to the public on information relating to public health and safety, albeit a universal right of consumers.
Very truly yours,
Atty. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, AB, LLB, LLM