Govt procurement system slows down testing of products for toxicity – FDA

Dec. 11, 2014

DAVAO CITY – Testing of toys for toxic chemicals takes a lot of time and one of the reasons for this is due to the government’s procurement system, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official here said.

“Alam niyo naman ang procurement process ng government hindi po agad agad, pag kailangan mo next day nandyan na agad. Dadaan pa ho ng procurement, so in that cases po pag wala talagang available na reagents or kulang, pinapadala po lahat sa Alabang (You know how it is with the government’s procurement process, it’s not provided immediately when you need it. So in that case, if there is no available reagents we send it all to Alabang),” said Arnold Alindada, FDA 11 regulation officer.

The Department of Health maintains the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa, which does the testing for contamination and pollution.

“Nationwide kasi yung nagpapadala dun (items from across the country are sent there for testing),” he added.

Alindada said that results of the tests also take time depending on the procedure done by the analyst.

“With regards to the results, it really takes time. You wouldn’t be getting the results in a span of one or two weeks. It depends upon the procedure of the analyst,” he said.

The other delaying factor is the available supply of reagents, which are chemicals used in laboratory tests. Alindada admitted that if there is a lack of supply of reagents, it is not easily replenished because of the government’s procurement process.

Alindada said that a laboratory testing center in Cebu also shares the same problem.

“Actually pati in Cebu, meron din silang laboratory pero walang reagents. Hindi naman wala, nauubusan po sa sobrang dami ng pineperform na analysis (Cebu also has a laboratory but they don’t have reagents. They also ran out of reagents because of too many analysis that they perform),” he said.

He also said that FDA Davao has an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers which can immediately determine whether the said item contains toxic materials. But he said the result would still need the validation from the RITM center in Alabang.

With the holiday rush, FDA said it was partnering with the DOH to monitor the safety of food products sold in the market.

In a press conference Monday, Alindada issued a warning to the public in buying toys which might contain heavy traces of metal. (With reports from Ralph Lawrence Llemit, Davao Today Intern)

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