Toxic watchdog group urges the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration to publish the list of registered and notified brands of school supplies to guide the parents and the consuming public in buying school supplies.
As consumers continue to flock the market for school supplies, BAN Toxics made the call after its market monitoring of school supplies conducted in Divisoria, Manila and Baclaran, Pasay City. The group bought samples of art coloring school supplies like regular (8 colors) and jumbo crayons (8 colors), oil pastel fantastic color and 18 water colour cakes watercolor with prices ranges from P20 to P80 pesos.
Most of the school supplies are made in China and Philippines, have insufficient or inadequate product information such as manufacturer and distributor’s name and address, ingredients, cautionary statements, warning signs, and license-to-operate (LTO number).
According to the DTI’s Gabay sa Pamimili ng School Supplies as of July 25, 2023, consumers are advised to look for the following labels in the crayons, namely: brand name or trademark; number of crayons in the box (8, 16, 24 etc.); name and address of manufacturer or distributor; words like “non-toxic” indicating that the product undertook product standard and passed the “allowed toxicity level” set by the FDA, and country of origin.
“Product labels are important for consumers’ informed choice and to ensure product safety against toxic chemicals that may pose health hazards to children,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.
“To ensure the quality and standard of school supplies being sold in the market, we call the attention of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration to jointly publish the list of registered and legitimate manufacturers and distributors of school supplies in the country for consumers’ awareness and safety, ” he added.
Last Aug 17, the DTI and the FDA conducted an on-the-spot inspection in Divisoria, Manila to check and verify the prices of school supplies as well as test-buy samples for the FDA to verify for heavy metal content such as cadmium, mercury and lead.
“We laud the DTI and FDA in conducting on-site monitoring effort, the visibility of regulatory agencies and local authorities are vital in times like this, to ensure the quality and safety standards of school supplies,” the group added.
Republic Act 7394 also known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines states that it is the policy of the State to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry. The State shall implement measures to achieve the following objectives:
- a) protection against hazards to health and safety;
- b) protection against deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices;
- c) provision of information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of rights by the consumer;
- d) provision of adequate rights and means of redress; and
- e) involvement of consumer representatives in the formulation of social and economic policies.
“BAN Toxics will be vigilant in raising awareness of the public against toxic chemicals in children’s products, protecting children from being exposed to harmful substances is our mission and our advocacy,” the group lamented.