DepEd Urged to Bolster Steps to Protect Kids from DEHP-Tainted Products

(Photo by Manny Calonzo)

With schools set to reopen next Monday, a toxic watchdog exhorted the Department of Education (DepEd) to initiate proactive measures that will protect students from health-damaging foods and drinks, especially blacklisted products from Taiwan.

“Now that we know which products from Taiwan are tainted with DEHP, we call upon our education officials to welcome the new academic year with an enthusiastic campaign on food safety,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The food safety awareness and action campaign, according to Alvarez, should be rolled out in collaboration with school administrators, teachers, non-teaching personnel, students, parents, and food service providers, concessionaires and vendors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday released a tentative list of beverage and food products believed to be contaminated with di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP, the dangerous chemical blamed for the still unfurling toxic food scandal in Taiwan.

“The campaign’s immediate objective should be to keep the tainted goods away from school canteens and snack kiosks, as well as convenience stores near schools,” Alvarez said.

“Just as important is the objective of educating parents, students and other stakeholders to shun unhealthy foods such as those laden with synthetic and toxic chemicals, and those high in fat, salt and sugar,” he added.

School officials should instigate urgent dialogues with canteen operators and food concessionaires to ensure that no DEHP-tainted goods are used or offered for sale to students, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.

Convenience stores should in no way sell recalled goods or sell high-risk products from Taiwan that have no safety certifications, the group emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition also stressed the importance of parents exercising their right to be inquisitive if only to ensure that their children are not fed with injurious stuff.

“You have the undeniable right to ask for full product details, secure safety guarantee for your kids and get the best value for your hard-earned money,” Alvarez said.

Some of the items in the FDA-issued list of DEHP-tainted products from Taiwan include fruit juices, fruit juice powders, fruit concentrates, fruit candies, fruit tablets, fruit powders, sports drinks, teas, jelly and yoghurt.

DEHP, a suspected carcinogen, can damage the kidneys, liver and lungs, and cause reproductive and developmental disorders such as underdeveloped penises and testicles in boys and early puberty in girls.


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