THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release the list of vinegar brands that use synthetic acetic acid.

“I don’t know why they are holding onto it pero ako (but in my opinion) it’s a Constitutional guarantee (that consumers should know). Hindi mo pwedeng itago ‘yan (You cannot hide it),” Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a social media post Tuesday.

“As a consumer, I believe it is my right to know kung ano ‘yung binibili ko sa merkado (what I am buying in the market),” he added.

He added that there is a need to clearly spell out in labeling products that use fermented natural materials and synthetically-produced materials.

“We have always assumed that vinegar is an agricultural product,” he said.

Ang position ng DA ngayon is that (The DA’s position now is that)… kung [if] synthetic acetic acid ‘yung ginagamit n’yo (is what you are using) to produce a sour condiment that should not be called vinegar,” he said.

On Monday, various agencies discussed the issue of acetic acid-based commercial vinegar. In a social media post, Mr. Piñol said the agencies made a number of determinations.

“Based on the testimony of a chemist and toxicologist, Dr. Flerida Carino, and the Department of Health (DoH), synthetic acetic acid-based vinegar is ‘not totally unsafe;’ The classification standards for commercial vinegar sold in the market will now be ‘biogenic’ for those which use acetic acid produced through a natural fermentation process and “non-biogenic” for those which are made out of synthetic compounds; and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said it does not have the mandate to release the names of the brands found to contain ‘non-biogenic’ acetic acid while the Food and Drug Administration said it will await the submission by PNRI of its complete study for validation before it will release the list of the vinegar brands.”

The PNRI, an arm of the science and technology department, performed the tests that isolated the components of commercially-available vinegar brand.

According to a PNRI study, of 17 brands tested, 14 brands use synthetic material in their vinegar production. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang