The EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to order wholesale and retail outlets selling high-risk products from Taiwan to immediately stop further sale until they have shown documentary evidence indicating that their products are DEHP-free and safe for human consumption.
The group made the proposal after purchasing today 30 bottles of various Taiwan-made beverages from seven grocery stores and supermarkets along Ongpin, Salazar and T. Alonzo Streets in Binondo, Manila and from a convenience store at Matalino St., Quezon City, with the objective of checking the availability of the products in the local market.
The Taiwanese government last week ordered a massive recall of six categories of beverage and food products suspected of being tainted with DEHP, or di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, a cancer-causing plasticizer, that has been illegally added to a “cloudy agent” or emulsifier (a legal food additive), leading to contamination. DEHP is strictly prohibited in beverages and foods.
The six categories of high-risk beverages and foods include fruit juices, sports drinks, teas, fruit jams and preserves, food powders, and food or food supplement tablets.
Citing figures from Taiwan FDA, the EcoWaste Coalition said that, as of last Friday, up to 465,638 bottles of DEHP-tainted beverages have been pulled out from store shelves. Additionally, up to 270,822 boxes and 68,924 packs of powdered probiotics and 28,539 kilos of fruit juices, fruit jam, powder and syrup, and yoghurt powder have been removed from shelves.
“We urge our FDA to take its cue from what the Taiwanese government has done so far to ensure consumer safety from DEHP-tainted goods,” said Manny Calonzo, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.
Information gathered by the group from the Taiwan FDA website and from Taiwanese media reports indicated that warehouse retailers, supermarkets and convenience stores have been ordered by their government to remove all products containing emulsifiers that might contain plasticizer unless they have been certified safe.
“Like what the Taiwanese did, the FDA should instruct wholesale and retail outlets to, as a matter of precaution, halt the sale of high-risk beverages and foods imported from Taiwan until these are certified as DEHP-free,” he pointed out.
“The photos and product details of proven DEHP-free goods should be published in the FDA website and in at least two newspapers with national circulation before such items are returned to the store shelves,” Calonzo added.
As a further precautionary step, the Taiwanese government has likewise ordered schools to remove such products from canteens, candy shops and vending machines until they are proven safe, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
According to the DOH-FDA Advisory 2011-006, the agency “is currently monitoring high risks products from Taiwan (sports drinks, fruit juices and soft drinks) to ensure that they are safe for consumers.”
In 1999, the FDA, then known as the Bureau of Food and Drugs, issued Advisory 1999-05, where it warned that “phthalates may cause adverse health effects such as liver and kidney wounds, reproductive abnormalities and immune system defects.”
From Taiwan FDA:
From Philippine FDA: