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Health-rating labels for packaged food proposed

A woman buys groceries at a supermarket in Quezon City, March 4. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

A LABELING law that would rate the health benefits of packaged food has been proposed as a measure in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 1139, filed by Isabela Rep. Faustino A. Dy, proposes a star rating system for packaged food products as an amendment to Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

“Most consumers don’t really take time to read what’s in the packaging and a lot of the terms are very technical,” Mr. Dy said at a hearing of the House committee on trade and industry. 

At the hearing, a packaged-food industry representative called for more research into the labeling proposal.

Denya J. Uy-Anastacio of Nestlé Philippines said studies are needed “to know the consumer’s use and understanding of food labels and (to) evaluate what kind of labeling is most effective in realizing the public health goal of the bill.”

Meneses D. Pareja, a representative from the market vendors industry, called the system potentially discriminatory to low-rated products.

“If your product is labeled one or two stars only, you could lose against a three or five-star product,” according to Mr. Pareja, president of the vendors association at the Zapote Las Piñas Public Market.

Mr. Pareja also asked if the labels would affect product prices.

A technical working group has been created to discuss amendments to the bill. Rizal Rep. Emigdio P. Tanjuatco III will serve as its chairman. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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