June 21, 2019
DIGITAL

DA Seeks Meeting with DOST, DOH & DTI over ‘Fake’ Vinegar Issues

(SDN) — CONSUMERS’ strong desire to know the names of 15 Philippine vinegar (“suka”) brands reported to be “fake” have found support from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The issue has already reached the ears of DA Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol as he laid down his department’s position in what he described as “the controversy.”

Sec Manny by Rappler

Image courtesy of Rappler.com of DA Secretary Manny Piñol.

He said his position “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 (synthetic) Acetic Acid must be pulled out of the market.”

PNRI is the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

FDA is the Food and Drugs Administration, an agency under the Department of Health (DOH)

It can be recalled that the PNRI revealed the results of its nuclear-based technology test called “Isotope Studies” on 17 brands of Philippine-manufactured vinegar, and that 15 brands were found to be using synthetic acetic acid, a by-product of petrochemicals. Only three “suka” brands passed the PNRI tests.

However, the PNRI did not reveal the names of any of the brands. The DOST agency submitted the results of its “Isotope Studies” FDA for appropriate action.

“One can only imagine all the impurities and residues from the petroleum by-products, which can be the source of various degenerative diseases,” PNRI Nuclear Analytical Techniques Applications Section Head Raymond J. Sucgang said in a statement.

He also told SDN — Science and Digital News that PNRI had started putting under nuclear analysis 10 brands of “toyo” (sauce) and that tests for “patis” may also follow.

Piñol, through his Facebook page, said the “(DA) will officially request a multi-agency meeting on Monday” (May 20) with the DOST, DOH, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), a meeting that will tackle and “address reports that ‘fake’ vinegar products using synthetic Acetic Acid are being sold in the market.”

DOST-and-DTI.jpg

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez and DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña. (SDN file photo)

The DA chief said the meeting is in response to the PNRI study on the vinegar brands.

Sugcang said they collected over 360 samples of the 17 brands from various areas of the country in order to establish what whether “suka” manufacturers were using natural acetic acid (from plants) or synthetic acetic acid (from petroleum by-products).

“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 (DA-BAFS) headed by Director Vivencio Mamaril will initiate a move to establish standards of vinegar, an agricultural product,” said Piñol.

The DA chief’s plans jibes with the PNRI’s call to the DOH-FDA to formulate a Vinegar Standards of the Philippines.

Sugcang said the vinegar standards should specify that only nuclear technology should be used in products tests/analyses because it is the only test that can’t be deceived.

Conventional tests, he said, can be deceived (or kayang pulusutan in Pilipino language).

Here’s an important part of Piñol’s Facebook post.

DOH Sec Duque

Image of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III courtesy of Rappler via GSIS.

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

His statement finds resonance with the desire of consumers who have been asking for the names of the brands, both the 15 and the three brands the PNRI had analyzed.

Piñol added: “This is where the DTI which the mandate to monitor products sold in the market will come in.” He was referring to the need for the issuance of a market advisory and the pullout of the 15 brands from groceries and stores nationwide.

“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,” he emphasized.

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

Piñol said there are alternatives “suka” products in the market.

FB_IMG_1558150411585_1

Images, including the Featured image of vinegar are from Facebook page of DA Secretary Manny Piñol.

“Natural vinegar made of coconut sap and water, sugargcane, nipa and fruits are readily available in the market.”

The DA head assured that they “will work fast this. By next week, we should have the results already. In the meantime, iwas muna sa commercial na suka (avoid commercial vinegar).”

Piñol posted his Facebook update early morning on Saturday, and it has already garnered more than 100 comments/reactions and 2,400 Likes as of this writing. (SDN)

“Natural vinegar made of coconut sap and water, sugargcane, nipa and fruits are readily available in the market.”

The DA head assured that they “will work fast this. By next week, we should have the results already. In the meantime, iwas muna sa commercial na suka (avoid commercial vinegar).”

Piñol posted his Facebook update early morning on Saturday, and it has already garnered more than 100 comments/reactions and 2,400 Likes as of this writing.

In a text message, Sugcang assured the accuracy of PNRI’s nuclear-based tests.

Raymond J. Sugcang from GMA7

Image PNRI’s Raymond J. Sugcang from his Facebook page of a screen grab from GMA7 when the ‘Kapuso’ network interviewed him recently. 

“The radio carbon assay is very accurate in detecting synthetic vinegar. All natural biogenic vinegar have 12 disintegrations per minute (DPM) per gram Carbon (gC) or above that. Below that, vinegar is deemed to be adulterated. Synthetic vinegar have zero to 2 DPM/gC.

“The test was validated using authentic natural and synthetic vinegar samples. Detection limit for C14 measurement is below 1DPM/gC.”

He continued, responding to concerns from consumers.

“Add to these are the health hazards related to the presence of catalysts in the catalytic oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid. These metals such as Be (Beryllium), Rh (Rhodium), Ag (Silver), Pt Platinum), are retained in the industrial grade synthetic acetic acid and which the nuclear technique can detect using INAA (Instrumentation Neutron Activation Analysis) and related methods.”

Meanwhile, the FDA assured during an interview by Radio DZBB of two executives they will have to validate first the test the PNRI conducted.

“As soon as we can ascertain that there are (vinegar using) synthetic acetic acid…we promise to release the names of the brands,” the FDA said in the interview.

“To our listeners, we will act on this, we will test them. If true, we will really name the vinegar (brands).”

In earlier interview with Sugcang, it is very important to have a law on “suka” standards, citing the standards on drinking water.

The PNRI official mentioned this in relation with the agency’s recommendation to the FDA to come up with vinegar standards.

He said in 2017 the PNRI created a working group to tackle the proposed vinegar standards, with the meeting participated by various sectors.

“We created a group from the academe, church…outlined what should be included in the standard, what should be measured.

“FDA’s reply is they will formulate (the standard) in 2019 because there are many lined up.”

Sugcang said all those manufacturing “suka” both natural and fake were included in the PNRI working group. “And they signed.”

The PNRI executive said,” we don’t know if they (FDA) will adhere to the proposal but the point is that they should recognize nuclear-based because it can’t be deceived.”

He added that conventional testing “ay kayang pulusutan” (can be deceived).

“We need to campaign for this and readers will also support it to push the FDA to adopt the (proposed vinegar) standard for the quality of our ‘suka’ because we are following a standard; there is a law with teeth.”

Sugcang said conventional analysis should not be allowed, only the nuclear technology-based analysis. (SDN)

 

 

 

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