Researchers from the DOST Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) use isotope-based analytical techniques to identify condiments being sold to Filipino consumers that contain harmful acetic acid.
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DOST: 8 of 10 vinegar products fake
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Scientists of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) found that as many as eight out of 10 vinegar products being sold in local markets are synthetic and thus could be harmful to consumers.

Researchers from the DOST Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) use isotope-based analytical techniques to identify condiments being sold to Filipino consumers that contain harmful acetic acid.

The results of the vinegar studies were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and could serve as a basis for the development of a new Vinegar Standards of the Philippines.

In the search for vinegar products that contain acetate, it was found that among the more than 360 brands of vinegar in the Philippines, eight out of 10 are made from synthetic acetic acid.

“Condiments usually undergo the process of fermentation and the raw materials must come from fruits and other natural products,” said scientist Raymond Sucgang, head of the PNRI Nuclear Analytical Techniques Applications Section.

The PNRI team’s research project distinguishes vinegar and other condiments made from natural or plant-based sources from those that are derived from petroleum-based sources.

“One can only imagine all the impurities and residues from the petroleum byproducts, which can be the source of various degenerative diseases,” said Sucgang.

Isotope techniques help to detect the adulteration in vinegar through radiocarbon assay using carbon-14. The natural vinegar coming from plants will have traces of carbon with natural radioactivity, unlike those made from synthetic raw materials.

PNRI researchers are also developing isotope analytical techniques for use in detecting synthetic byproducts in other condiments such as ketchup, patis (fish sauce) and toyo (soy sauce). 

State-of-the-art equipment such as the liquid scintillation counter and the isotope ratio mass spectrometer will be used to study the isotope composition of these condiments, particularly carbon-13 and nitrogen-15.

Meanwhile, the institute continues to open its services to customers from various sectors on the use of its nuclear analytical techniques for their products. PNRI’s analytical laboratories and services are certified under ISO 17025:2005 and ISO 9001:2015.

DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY VINEGAR PRODUCTS
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