Press Release
October 30, 2007

ROXAS REMINDS PUBLIC ABOUT UNSAFE CANDIES
TRICK OR TREAT? BFAD ADVISORIES SERVE AS GUIDELINES

Senator Mar Roxas reminded the public to heed health advisories on the purchase and consumption of candies and other treats deemed by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) as unsafe, as residential areas and commercial establishments gear up for the traditional Halloween "trick-or-treat" events.

"This is as good as time as any to reiterate the earlier warnings of BFAD," Roxas said, noting that the BFAD recently issued an advisory on White Rabbit Creamy Candy, Fat and Thin Lo Han Kou Pei Pa Koa Candy and other specific brands of candy and food products that have been found to contain formaldehyde.

"Don't be tricked or spooked this Halloween. Just keep in mind the latest advisories from BFAD, and be vigilant against specific candy products that may pose health risks to children," he added.

Roxas called on all retail and wholesale outlets to work closely with the BFAD to ensure that none of these unsafe food products are able to reach consumers. For starters, he called on these outlets to post all BFAD advisories on unsafe food products in conspicuous places.

He also emphasized that consumers—particularly parents—play an equally important role in keeping such unsafe food products away from their children.

The senator stressed that his call for public vigilance is only aimed at specific brands that BFAD has identified to be dangerous not only to children's but also to adults' health. The senator also warned the public against buying food products that are of unknown origin or have dubious packaging or contents.

"Parents have nothing to be spooked about as long as we all stay away from candies and food products that were banned by BFAD," he said.

He noted that BFAD had issued a warning on various food products being sold that are not in their original packaging or repacked by unauthorized entities, and encouraged the public to purchase food products only from establishments with proper business and sanitary government permits.

Recent BFAD Advisories (http://www.bfad.gov.ph/advisory.htm) list several candies found to contain formaldehyde, including:

· Fat and Thin Lo Han Kou Pei Pa Koa Candy;

· Golden Monkey Milk Candy;

· Xinlong Nougat Candy;

· Sheng Long Marshmallow/Bunny Marshmallow;

· Nicefoods Sweet Orange C%;

· Romanticfish Food Industry Co. Milk Candy;

· Bairong Grape Biscuits; and

· Yong Kang Foods Grape Biscuit.

Roxas said when in doubt about a certain candy or food product, or when a certain store still sells these harmful products, consumers may call the BFAD through its hotlines 807 0721 and 842 5606.

"Unfortunately, government's efforts to monitor and confiscate these products are hampered by lack of resources and manpower. This is why those organizing trick-or-treat parties or other Halloween events must make sure that none of these prohibited candies are given out for free or sold to unsuspecting customers," he said.

Roxas, also known as "Mr. Palengke," sees the need to strengthen the BFAD's implementing powers by allowing the agency to use its income. This will help the bureau expand its detection and monitoring capabilities for both food and drug products.

A provision to empower BFAD is included in Senate Bill No. 1658 or the Quality Affordable Medicines Act of 2007, which was passed on second reading by the Senate last October 2.

Aside from creating a more competitive environment that will bring down local prices of medicines, it also "beefs up" the BFAD by allowing it to retain its collections and fees, worth about P150 million annually, that will be used to expand human resources and improve testing facilities. This will ensure that the BFAD is equipped to deal with increased imports of lower-priced medicines.

"Our aim is not just to bring down drug prices but to make sure that more affordable medicines imported from abroad pass our safety and quality standards. Filipino consumers deserve no less," Roxas, a principal author of SB 1658, said.

Formaldehyde is a toxin, allergen, and carcinogen, which is already banned or restricted in many countries. It is often used in embalming solutions, and commonly used in industry for the production of polymers and other compounds, and glues used in manufacturing wood products.

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