Lawmaker says food fortification law may result in high price of sugar

A LAWMAKER urged congress to exclude refined sugar from the coverage of the Philippine Food Fortification Act saying the implementation of the law would result in the high price of sugar in the market.

Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District, Negros Oriental), author of House Bill 6190, said the fortification of refined sugar entails additional cost to the manufacturer which would result in a higher market price of the product.

“The implementation of the law will certainly put the product beyond the reach of the consumers. Fortification will lead to a reduction in supply of refined sugar in the market,” Limkaichong said.

Limkaichong said fortifying refined sugar with Vitamin A speeds up the discoloration process and that about six to eight months after fortification the white crystals turn yellowish even if the refined sugar is placed under normal or dry conditions.

“Repackers and industrial users refuse to purchase the fortified refined sugar because of the risk of discoloration,” Limkaichong said.

“There will be a reduction in the volume of refined sugar available in the market, or worse, the non-registration or recall of unfortified refined sugar will cause a severe drop in the available supply in the country,” Limkaichong added.

It has been estimated that the cost of fortifying refined sugar with Vitamin A costs P50 per bag or P1 per kilo of refined sugar – a cost that will have to be passed on to the consumers, according to Limkaichong.

Citing the Medium-Term Philippine Plan for Action, Limkaichong said only 27.7 percent of households are using refined sugar, while 46.4 percent use brown sugar.

Limkaichong said majority of the consumers prefer the unfortified sugar in their daily use. “It is impractical to implement the mandatory fortification of refined sugar because the public will not patronize it,” Limkaichong said.

Republic Act 8976 or the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000 provides the mandatory fortification of certain staple foods with specific nutrients including refined sugar, with vitamin A. It was signed into law on November 7, 2000.

However, on November 4, 2004 the representatives of the sugar industry, the Department of Health and the Bureau of Food and Drug have reached a consensus that the mandatory fortification of refined sugar with Vitamin A is not practical and cannot be implemented.

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