By GENALYN D. KABILING
President Duterte has ordered authorities to place health warning labels on sugary beverages to inform the public about their risks.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the President issued the directive after expressing concern about the danger posed by the consumption of products whose main ingredient was sugar to public health.
“The President was bothered if you continue to give Tang or other high-sugar products to other people without that warning. Sabi niya kailangan may warning ang mga produkto na ‘yan para guided naman ang bibili at ‘yung tatanggap,” Lopez said during a Palace press briefing.
“It becomes really a health risk. Many people hindi tumitingin sa likod, ingredients,” he added, citing the harmful effects of the sugary drinks.
The planned placement of health warnings on sweetened drinks was raised while the President and the Cabinet were discussing the tax reform law and its impact on inflation in last week.
Lopez said the President initially asked about the high prices of powered juiced drinks such as Tang during the Cabinet meeting. Duterte was then informed that it was among the high-sugar products slapped with taxes under the new law.
“And in fact the ingredient says it’s mainly sugar so delikado pala yan, sabi niya. Binanggit niya meron ba tayong truth in advertising, truth in labeling. Dapat ibandera din ‘yan,” Lopez said.
Lopez said he felt the President’s concern for public health during the discussion about the sugary drinks. He said the President noted the practice of giving sugary drinks to sick family members only to discover these were unhealthy beverages. “He was really concerned if these are being given without warning,” Lopez said.
But before the government implements the placement of warning labels, Lopez said they plan to hold consultations with various stakeholders. He said they must first determine the high-sugar products that must have appropriate health warning labels.
He said the Food and Drug Administration is expected to execute the President’s latest policy on issuance of appropriate health warnings on sugary products.
The placement of the health warnings may be implemented in one or two months, according to the Trade and Industry chief.