MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants drinks that count sugar as a main ingredient to carry health warnings for consumers, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
“Sabi niya kailangan may warning ang mga produkto na ‘yan para guided naman ‘yung bibili at tatanggap,” said Lopez on Wednesday, June 20, during a Malacañang press briefing.
(He said these products must have warnings so that the ones buying and receiving can be guided.)
Lopez said the new requirement could be imposed on energy drinks and soft drinks as well.
Cabinet members had told Duterte that consumers could find out about the sugar content by looking at the ingredients table found on the packaging, usually at the back. But the President insisted on more obvious warning labels in front of the products.
“What he (Duterte) wants to say now, there should be [a] warning, like for cigarettes: ‘This can be dangerous to your health.’ So the President has a directive that there shoud be warnings in these sugar-sweetened beverages. If high sugar, it should say, ‘containing high sugar,'” said Lopez.
Duterte had apparently expressed concern about the health risks posed by sweetened drinks.
“Na-bother siya nung nalaman niya ‘yung health risk din (He was bothered when he found out about the health risks) if you continue to give Tang or other sugary products to other people without that warning,” said Lopez.
The President had apparently shared to his Cabinet that he would observe fruit-flavored drinks Tang or Eight O’Clock being given to sickly persons, and he joked that this was likely why many of them would get diabetes.
Government agencies are already gearing up to implement Duterte’s new order.
Lopez said a system for implementation would be ready in “one or two” months.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees the labeling of food products.
There would also have to be an assessment on what sugary beverages to impose the health warning requirement on.
“We develop that, we have to discuss with the stakeholders. We have to identify what products are practically mostly sugar or the main ingredient is sugar and it’s not that clear in the product,” said Lopez.
He added that sales of sugar-sweetened beverages no longer seem to be affected by the excise tax on sugary drinks brought about by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
While sales went down during the first few months of 2018, when the law’s implementation began, they began to pick up again. A Nielsen Retail Index study had found that in February, sales of sugar-sweetened drinks in sari-sari stores decreased due to the tax reform law. – Rappler.com