FDA to local execs: Be strict in issuing permits

ON THE heels of the deadly lambanog poisoning in Laguna, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday, December 26, called on all local government units (LGUs) to be strict in the issuance of Mayor's Permits to food and beverage manufacturers in order to avoid similar incidents.

In an interview, FDA officer-in-charge Eric Domingo said it is imperative for LGUs to be more cautious in issuing Mayor's Permits, particularly in implementing the rule requiring businesses to secure FDA License to Operate (LTO) as a prerequisite.

"We are asking LGUs to implement their ordinances requiring food and beverage manufacturers to secure FDA LTOs before they are given business permits," said Domingo.

"We should be more circumspect in giving Mayor's Permits to these high risk products," he added.

Domingo said they are issuing the appeal as there are cities and municipalities that disregard such a rule.

"There are those LGUs who do not adhere to it. They give Mayor's or business permits despite manufacturers not having FDA LTOs," he said.

The health official explained that securing LTOs from the FDA is important as it will ensure that standards in food or beverage manufacturing are being strictly observed.

"Products, like alcoholic beverages, manufactured in uncontrolled set-ups, like in backyards, and use of substandard processes, have the potential to cause poisoning and can even lead to death," explained Domingo.

Meanwhile, the FDA disclosed that the samples of lambanog from several sellers in Rizal, Laguna had tested positive for high levels of methanol.

Domingo noted that the five samples that tested positive contained 11.4 percent to 18.2 percent methanol.

“Very low levels of methanol may be present in alcoholic beverages provided they are by-products of natural fermentation. The high levels found in the samples make them toxic,” he said.

"Ingestion of 30 ml is potentially fatal. This is due to methanol being converted to formaldehyde and formic acid in the liver," Domingo added.

Twelve people died in Rizal, Laguna after drinking lambanog or palm wine.

Another three were killed in Candelaria, Quezon also due to lambanog poisoning.

They were among the over 300 people, who complained of stomach pains and were hospitalized after drinking lambanog. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)