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Pinoy FDA targeting non-English labels

By RJ Whitehead , 09-Nov-2012

In the wake of a major recall of toxic South Korean noodles from shelves across the country, food regulation authorities in the Philippines are now actively seeking to target imported products that do not contain English translations of ingredients on their labels.

Six Korean noodle products had recently been taken off shelves for containing carcinogenic substances, and the Filipino Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now in the process of collecting samples and testing other Korean products for possible contamination.

Regional action

Subsequently, authorities in Thailand have removed the instant noodles, produced by South Korea’s Nongshim Company, from the country’s shelves after cancer-causing benzopyrene was detected in the products.

The same products are also exported to China but as yet there has been no action by authorities there.

Products imported into the Philippines are usually labelled in their native language, but importers have an obligation to include an English translation of their labels. These should include the name of the products, the manufacturer, their source and other details.

The noodles affair has served as a wake-up call for the FDA, which confirmed that it is ramping up efforts to monitor imports more closely.

It has been a busy week for the FDA under its recently installed acting director, Prof. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, with the agency frantically assessing dangerous products ahead of the upcoming holiday season.

Supplements under the spotlight

It has also been warning the public against believing the “curative claims” dietary and food supplement producers have been making to promote their products. 

Hartigan-Go said that consumers should not replace their prescribed medication with food and dietary supplements “unless otherwise advised by a physician”.

The FDA is warning the public to be cautious in taking food or dietary supplements for curing purposes as they have no approved therapeutic claims,” he said.

This applies to testimonials given by certain individuals with or without the consent of food manufacturers, importers or distributors promoting or advertising said products.”

The FDA requires manufacturers of food supplements to print “No approved therapeutic claims” on their labels to inform consumers that such supplements have “no approved curative effects.”

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