Press Release
February 15, 2011

Sotto: Is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aware
of the prohibition of poppy seeds?

Proliferation of poppy seeds in the country as an ingredient for baking, skin care and other products have been approved by the FDA, formerly known as the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

"The laws are clear. Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, importation of illegal substances and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals that include all species of opium poppy and or any of its parts for floral, decorative and culinary purposes is strictly prohibited," Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III today said.

"FDA has a lot of explaining to do because some of the food establishments that make use of poppy seeds in their pastry products were issued permits to avail of it for decorative and culinary purposes," he added.

Attempts by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to confiscate products laced with poppy seeds in some delicatessen and groceries proved futile after they were presented with a permit from the FDA.

Members of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) who conducted a test-buy of the products with the poppy seeds called the attention of the NBI since it's openly sold in the groceries, supermarkets and bakeshops.

Any substance considered as derivative of opium, poppies, coca leaves, heroin, or any other narcotics or synthetic drugs are prohibited under the R.A. 9165, except if used for medicinal purposes, Sotto III said.

"Even the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) are aware of this. No one can do business in this country if they would be dealing with this kind of product, except if duly authorized by the DDB," the majority leader said.

Sotto III said FDA should shed light on the issue as he called for the ban of these products in the market.

Besides the use of poppy seeds in food items, the senator was told that poppy seed extracts are also being used as an ingredient in some skin care products.

The Senate majority leader delivered a privilege speech Monday to raise caution as well on the possible emergence of an illegal drugs industry in the country since poppy seeds from the food items can still germinate opium poppy plants.

"We have pictures of the sprouting poppy plants from the seeds bought as food condiments," he said.

Anyone found to be engaged in the importation of dangerous drugs and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals face the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.

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