Sugary drinks makers told to have warning labels ready by August

June 27, 2018
BusinessWorld Online (Janina C. Lim) |

THE GOVERNMENT will establish a warning label scheme for “high sugar” drinks in a bid to reduce consumption of these products, with manufacturers on notice to be ready to comply by August.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said Wednesday that he was meeting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and private stakeholders to thresh out the rules and hear concerns from drinks manufacturers.

“We will select the products that will be included and what kind of warning will be included in the label,” Mr. Lopez told reporters in Pasay City on Wednesday, adding that the manner of labeling has yet to be discussed.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has called for “more obvious” warnings in the packaging of these products.

The agency proposed to the FDA, which is responsible for product label rules, that the warning include the estimated sugar content in grams on a per-serving basis, instead of the current standard showing a drink’s sugar content within the container.

The agencies will be reviewing all forms of sugary drinks — ready-to-drink, powdered, and drinks prepared from concentrate. The release of the list of companies that will be required to comply will be out soon, he said.

Mr. Lopez noted that he expects two months to be sufficient for manufacturers to comply. As such, he expects the food industry to have their new labels ready by August.

Asked if the warnings will dampen demand for sugar-sweetened products, Mr. Lopez said: “There will probably be an effect,” but noted that soft drinks buyers continue to purchase these drinks despite higher excise taxes.