May 282013

MANILA, Philippines – The Agriculture department is asking the Trade department to monitor rice being sold in Metro Manila, citing reports that the packages of these goods have been found to contain lead.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala said in a letter dated May 24 to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo, they would want the Trade department to monitor the packages of rice being sold in the market.

This, as the DA received information from the EcoWaste Coalition of the presence of lead in rice sacks.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups pursuing sustainable solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues facing the Philippines and the world.

“It is informed that out of 125 sacks, representing 100 brands of rice purchased between the periods of April 13 to 18, 2013 from various rice dealers in public and private markets in cities of Metro Manila, about 53 percent showed low or non-detectable levels of lead, while 47 percent were found to contain lead in the range of 124 parts per million (ppm) to 2,605 ppm,” Alcala said.

Alcala noted that the lead content of the rice sacks exceeds the US limit of 90 ppm for lead in paint and surface coating.

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He said lead was detected in the outer portions of the sacks as well as in the inner sections, posing a concern for adulteration in rice.

“Traces of arsenic, chromium and mercury were also found in sacks tested positive for lead,” he said.

Such, raises concern for further examination.

Alcala said the discovery of lead in food packaging material, also causes alarm because of its health hazards and environmental damage.

He noted that EcoWaste has recommended the prohibition of lead-added dyes, inks and paints in food packaging materials especially in rice.

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