THE Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) remains firm on its drive against misleading ads about food supplements.

The agency has tied up with Ad Standards Council (ASC) of the Philippines in making clear in the labels to buyers that food supplement products are not considered alternatives to medicines.

Food and herbal supplement goods should now use the warning “Mahalagang paalala: ang (name of product) ay hindi gamot at hindi dapat gamiting panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit (Warning: (Name of product) is not a substitute for medicine and should not be used as such.)” in all of their advertising and promotional materials replacing the tag “No approved therapeutic claims.”

Early this year, ASC has issued a recall of all advertising and promotional material clearances following FDA’s directive to all food and dietary supplement owners, manufacturers, distributors, importers, exporters, advertisers and/or their agents to carry a new standard message of the ads of their products.

Failure to comply with the policy “will be deemed violative and will be penalized accordingly.”

Dr. Cynthia Diza of the FDA Ethical Market Communications (EMC) unit told Cebu media in a forum that the FDA directive is only meant to protect the public from all misleading ads, especially on food and dietary supplement claiming to cure illnesses.

All food and dietary supplements are required to secure a certificate of product registration and license to operate from the FDA prior to its distribution. These licenses are also required by ASC in granting ad clearances to air on TV, radio and other media channels. ASC also checks if the ad material is in line with the law.

According to Maya Estrada, operations manager of ASC, there are 22 food supplement ads that are aired without ASC permits. Sanctions are already being prepared for both advertisers and concerned stations, she said.

“We are here to remind advertisers and station managers about this policy. We want everybody to abide by the law,” said Diza. She noted that they are happy with the outcome of the changed phrase to Filipino for better understanding. However, she said that there are still some regions and stations that don’t comply with the directive and broadcasters going beyond what is confined in the label.

“We don’t have anything against food supplements. It is the consumer behavior that we are addressing,” said Estrada. She explained that consumers have the tendency to replace their maintenance medicines over food supplements, a scenario that the Health Department and FDA wants to avoid.

During the forum, ASC also introduced its online registration services aimed at making application accessible to all advertisers and product owners. One benefit, Estrada said, is for advertisers not to physically go to to their office in Manila to secure clearances should they wish to air ad materials in other places or regions.

“We expect more dynamic marketing in 2016 following this online application. We hope to see more local advertisers become big in the marketing industry,”said Estrada.