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DA chief thumbs down ‘fake’ vinegar, promotes ‘organic’ vinegar

Photo from MannyPiñol Facebook

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol is campaigning against what has been dubbed as “fake” vinegar to promote a nationwide Natural Vinegar Production Program that will be launched on May 28 with the participation of an “organic” vinegar company.

Green Life Coco Products based in Laguna is producing 20 metric tons of “organic” coco sap vinegar and 60 metric tons of coco water vinegar monthly, according to Piñol.

He announced the new program at about the same time that he urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reveal the list of vinegar brands that allegedly use synthetic acetic acid and order the immediate pullout of these products from the market.

Piñol made the call a day after the FDA, citing a report by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), announced that 8 out of 10 vinegar products in the market are synthetic or “fake” as these were made using glacial acetic acid.

Although there is no evidence that this synthetic product is harmful to health, the FDA said it will revoke the registration of those products that are found to have not undergone the natural process of fermentation because of misdeclaration.

“The FDA is coordinating with the PNRI for the submission of the results of the analysis, while continuously subjecting vinegar products for testing. Synthetic acetic acid may not be harmful per se, but products using such chemicals shall have their registration with the FDA revoked for misdeclaration,” OIC-FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said.

If these “fake” products are pulled out, Piñol said they were ready to step in and fill the supply gap with the implementation of the Natural Vinegar Production Program.

The FDA said natural vinegar is a product made from the conversion of ethyl alcohol to acetic acid. If the product contains artificial matter, such as synthetic acetic acid or cloudifying agent, it is considered adulterated.

Piñol said this is a “serious case of product misrepresentation punishable under our Consumer Protection laws.”

The marketing of such products also robbed the Filipino farmers of a decent source of income and access to a multi-million-peso market, he said.

“For generations, the production of natural vinegar from coconut and nipa sap (and now coconut water), sugarcane juice, bignay and other sour fruits has been the source of income of poor farmers,” he said.

The FDA said, however, that it classifies vinegar as a low risk product and is unlikely to contain pathogenic microorganisms.

“There is also no evidence that synthetic acetic acid is harmful to health,” the FDA said. (Ventures Cebu)

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