The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified five vinegar variants containing synthetic acetic acid, according to an advisory released Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
The concerned brands include Surebuy, Tentay, and Chef’s Flavor. Out of the five on the list, three variants are from Tentay.
According to the advisory, a total of 39 samples of vinegar were collected from various sources in response to an “ongoing issue involving the authenticity of vinegar sold in the market.” The FDA tested the samples to verify whether the brands met the prescribed standards of quality set by the agency.
Following the current Administrative Order prescribing the Standard of Identity and Quality of Vinegar, any artificial matter such as synthetic acetic acid or any cloudifying agent deems the vinegar adulterated hence, it must not be sold to the public,” said the advisory.
If you have recently bought vinegar from these brands, check the variants, batch and lot numbers, and expiry dates below to see if the product contains synthetic acetic acid:
- Surebuy Cane Vinegar (Best Before Date: 26-03-21)
- Tentay Pinoy Style Vinegar (Best Before Date: 03-18-21)
- Tentay Premium Vinegar (Batch/Lot No.: TV SEP0718AC)
- Tentay Vinegar ‘Sukang Tunay Asim’ (Expiry Date: 06-06-20)
- Chef’s Flavor Vinegar (Batch/Lot No.: 8870401 and Expiry Date: 01APR21)
Last May 2019, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), released a study that found commercial vinegar brands used synthetic acetic acid in their condiments. It added that “most of these products are ‘fake’ and not made from natural resources.”
“Condiments usually undergo the process of fermentation, and the raw materials must come from fruits and other natural products,” said Raymond Sucgang, section head of the PNRI Nuclear Analytical Techniques Applications Section. “One can only imagine all the impurities and residues from the petroleum by-products, which can be the source of various degenerative diseases.”
Synthetic acetic acid is not harmful
Though the products are identified as “unnatural,” the FDA reiterates in its advisory that the presence of synthetic acetic acid is not a safety issue and does not pose any health risk if consumed. It only means the vinegar is of substandard quality.
“The presence of synthetic acetic acid merely represents that the vinegar did not undergo fermentation, either through a slow process, quick process, or submerged culture process which is used for commercial vinegar production,” according to the advisory.
However, companies found using such chemicals “shall have their registration with the FDA revoked for misdeclaration,” said Ronaldo Enrique Domingo, FDA officer-in-charge director, in a statement on May 21, 2019.
On May 18, 2019, Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol posted on his personal Facebook account that consumers are advised to exercise caution in buying vinegar from commercial establishments.
“Natural vinegar made out of coconut sap and water, sugarcane, nipa and fruits are readily available in the market,” he said.