Instant noodles and canned sardines are “unsafe and dangerous” products, and could cause diseases such as kidney problem and diabetes, according to Senator Raffy Tulfo.
Senator Raffy Tulfo made this observation as he apprised the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the manufacturing, distribution and selling of consumer products that he described as “injurious, unsafe or dangerous.”
He particularly cited consumer products that are popular among the low- income families, saying these contained more than the allowable 2,000 milligrams of sodium if eaten two to three times a day.
Tulfo clarified, however, that he is not against the selling of instant noodles which he called the “poor man’s food.” He said the DTI should advise the manufacturers to reduce the sodium contents of their products.
“Our poor countrymen seem to be neglected. According to the National Kidney Institute, 1.2 million Filipinos get kidney disease annually due to the consumption of salty products. Instant noodles are not only eaten once a day by the poor, because it is what they can afford. That’s why it’s called poor-man’s food,” Tulfo said.
Tulfo cited Article 10 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines which stated; “Whenever the departments find, by their own initiative or by petition of a consumer, that a consumer product is found to be injurious, unsafe or dangerous, it shall, after due notice and hearing, make the appropriate order for its recall, prohibition or seizure from public sale or distribution.”
Unlike in Japan and the United States that managed to reduce the sodium level on instant noodles and sardines, Tulfo noted how one pack of locally-made instant noodles has sodium content ranging from 1,600mg to 1,900mg when the recommended daily intake is only a maximum of 2,000mg.
In Japan, for instance, a company launched a salt-reduced version of its famous cup noodles by using magnesium chloride instead of sodium chloride. A top-selling sardines’ brand in the US, meanwhile, only has 70mg sodium per can as compared to the famous sardines’ brands in the Philippines which have sodium levels from 300mg to as high as 610mg per can, Tulfo noted.
“Can the DTI do something about it?” Tulfo asked during Monday’s hearing of the Finance Subcommittee on the proposed 2023 budget of the DTI and attached agencies.
Tulfo said Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual should coordinate with theconcerned agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to push manufacturers to find better alternative to sodium chloride and minimize the health risks of too much salt.
He said local manufacturers of sardines and cup noodles could take after the adjustments made by brands in Japan and US which reduced or replaced sodium chloride with better alternative to lessen the
products’ health risks without compromising the taste.
Tulfo was irked when Pascual insisted that the DTI is not the agency responsible for the matter. Tulfo maintained that the DTI was mandated to protect the consumers from goods that are hazardous and dangerous to the consumers.
To further underscore DTI’s duty to protect consumers, Tulfo cited the agency’s budget request for 2023 of P443.576 million for Consumer Protection Program and P82.783 million for Consumer Education and Advocacy Program.
Tulfo said it is part of Consumer Education and Advocacy Program to educate the consumers that too much sodium in their diet is hazardous to their health. Pascual subsequently agreed to take the matter up with the concerned agencies.