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MAY 12, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to adopt and implement stricter safety and quality standards for vinegar products being sold in the market today, following reports that most of these products are made from synthetic raw materials that may pose health hazards.

FDA Director-General Nela Charade Puno said the agency is now waiting for the final report of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) which studied samples of some 360 vinegar brands. The PNRI, an arm of the Department of Science and Technology, said that eight out of 10 of these products “contain fake ingredients”, mostly acetic acid.

Puno said the PNRI study will be the basis of new, higher and stricter standards.

The implementation of the new standards will be complimented by an intensive consumer awareness and education program, Puno said.

“However, at this point, 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.

Puno said she anticipates that the new, higher standards and law enforcement action “will be met with resistance from the market vendor sector”. “The FDA recognizes that many buyers prefer cheaper brands,” Puno said.

“However, we cannot allow public health to be exposed to health hazards just to save a few pesos,” Puno explained.

Puno lauded the PNRI for the “valuable research on vinegar products”. She said the PNRI has the capability and the equipment to undertake a research of this magnitude and quality.

“Being experts in nuclear research, the PNRI possesses the needed expertise to come up with this kind of study,” she pointed out. The PNRI uncovered the risk by subjecting the 360 brands to so-called “isotope-based analytical techniques” to determine the contents of each product.

“This is an important contribution on the part of PNRI to public health administration,” Puno said. She explained that “isotope-based analytics” is a component of nuclear research. “The FDA does not have this capability since our research methods and equipment are chemical-based,” she added.

This early, the FDA called on consumers to examine the vinegar products they are purchasing to make sure that these “are made from natural ingredients such as cane sugar and coconut.”