President Duterte has backed a plan to force manufacturers to add health warnings onto the labels of sugary drinks.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the president was particularly worried because sugar-sweetened beverages were often given to sick people.
“He said there should be truth in advertising. He is referring to truth in labelling. But I think what he wants to say now, is there should be a warning, just like the ones placed on cigarettes, ‘this can be dangerous to your health’,” Lopez said during a press briefing at the Malacañang yesterday (Wednesday, June 20).
“If it’s high in sugar, it should be revealed in front of the product: ‘contains high sugar’ or ‘this can be dangerous to your health,'” he added.
Lopez said his department would coordinate with the Health department and the Food and Drug Administration for the labelling requirements.
He said the products that could be covered by the president’s directive would include energy drinks, soft drinks and powdered juices.
The placing of health warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages could start within two months.
Sweet drinks already taxed
Sugar-sweetened beverages were among the items that were slapped with higher taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion — or Train law.
The law imposed a six peso tax per litre on beverages containing caloric or non-caloric sweetener and 12 pesos per litre on drinks containing high fructose corn syrup or a combination of both.
Milk and three-in-one coffee were exempted from the tax.
Historically, moves to place warning labels on tobacco products faced stiff opposition from producers and manufacturers. This week’s proposals are likely to meet similar opposition.
Lopez said the government would hold consultations with stakeholders in the drinks industry before moving forward with the plans.