Friday, June 24, 2011

Tainted foods banned in schools

The Department of Education (DepEd) directed Thursday all canteens in public and private elementary and high schools to remove food products from their stocks that are believed to be contaminated with di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) to ensure the health and safety of the students inside school premises.

In DepEd Memorandum No. 140, series of 2011 issued to all regional directors, schools/city division superintendents, and heads of private and public elementary and secondary schools, Education Secretary Armin Luistro ordered that “school canteens to dispose of or return these food products in your stocks and ensure that they are not consumed by students and school personnel.”

Luistro ordered school heads “to monitor the inventory of food items sold in school canteens, and to communicate the department’s concern with the local government so food stalls outside of schools maybe examined.”

DepEd officials and school canteens are ordered to follow the directive from the Department of Health-Food and Drug Administration (DoH-FDA) on how to deal with DEHP-contaminated products to prevent school children from buying it.

Under DoH-FDA directive 2011-008, “products whether registered or not with the FDA but identified in the tentative list of DEHP-contaminated products shall be recalled and disposed of properly.”

Products that are not identified in the list but are unregistered with the FDA “shall also be recalled and disposed of, and lastly that those products that are registered but not identified in the list shall be withdrawn from the market to be subjected to a laboratory analysis to confirm the presence or absence of DEHP.”

Some of the items in the FDA-issued list of DEHP-tainted products from Taiwan include fruit juices, fruit juice powders, fruit concentrates, fruit candies, fruit tablets, fruit powders, sports drinks, teas, jelly and yogurt.

DEHP, a suspected carcinogen, can damage the kidneys, liver and lungs, and cause reproductive and developmental disorders such as underdeveloped penises and testicles in boys and early puberty in girls.

Taiwan’s FDA reportedly ordered a stop to the selling of the products. Earlier, EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, urged the DepEd to initiate proactive measures to ensure that students are protected from health-damaging food and drinks containing DEHP.


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