IN an ambush interview on Wednesday during his visit to the fire victims in Cainta, Rizal, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go told the media that the packaging of the controversial alcopop drink must be carefully reviewed.
The alcopop drink, which is fruit-flavored and packaged in a tetra pack, has 7% alcohol content inside 200-ml packs, and has almost the same alcohol content as some beer products. It also resembles the packaging of kid’s juices.
This was part of the discussions during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday wherein Senator Pia Cayetano, together with Go and other senators, tasted the product and commented that the alcopop drink must be pulled out from stores and its packaging must be changed.
“Alam niyo po, sabi ko, ‘yung kulay niya parang juice, talagang noong tinikman ko ay parang nahilo po ako,” Go shared.
“Ang content pala nun (alcopop drink) is 7%, medyo malakas, mas malakas pa kaysa sa beer,” Go said.
Go wants to know from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) if the manufacturer of the particular drink has followed the prescribed rules and regulations for the packaging and labeling of products distributed in the country.
“Kaya nga po sabi ko sa mga kasamahan nating kapwa ko senador ay bakit po ganoon? Baka dapat siguraduhin nila na hindi po ito mapunta sa mga bata, lalo na po sa mga nag-aaral pa, sa mga minors po,” Go said. He also added that if kids would accidentally get hold of an alcopop drink because of its kid-friendly packaging, “Talagang maapektuhan ang kanilang pag-iisip dahil malalasing po sila.”
The senator said he supports the call for government agencies to look into the matter and conduct an investigation, if needed, as the alcopop drink could easily lure consumers, especially minors, into consuming the product without knowing that it is an adult drink.
Meanwhile, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez responded right away to the concerns raised by senators regarding the distribution of alcopop in stores and its packaging.
According to Go, Sec. Lopez updated him on Wednesday afternoon through a text message that he personally inspected major supermarkets and found out that the product alcopops with brand Gaz have very weak distribution. The DTI head also added that it is not sold in major supermarkets, like SM and Rustan’s, but found supply “in a secondary account like Pioneer Center, but it is sold sparsely (small facings).”
Lopez clarified that while it is not promoted to minors as it is in the liquor and beer section based on DTI’s latest inspection, he emphasized that “the colorful bright packaging is NOT appropriate for such kind of products which are usually in glass bottles and (have) more serious label.”
The DTI Secretary added that they will require the manufacturer to “immediately change the current packaging and pull out the current stocks or require them to apply (sticker) to the current stocks to ensure that it is not mistaken for a juice, while they correct the packaging.”