FDA-Approved Food Supplements in the Philippines: A Quick Guide (Part 1)

As the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom, the adage “health is wealth” has never been more true. People are starting to invest more seriously in the physical well-being of their families and loved ones. This is where FDA-approved food supplements in the Philippines come in.

With experts saying that a vaccine is at least a year away, maybe even more, prevention is taking center stage. Supplements help individuals increase their daily intake of recommended energy and nutrient requirements. This makes people less vulnerable to common illnesses as well as the dreaded COVID-19.

If you are thinking of selling, importing, and distributing food supplements in the Philippines, you must first obtain the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This article provides you the basics of FDA Philippines food standards, including items such as the difference between drug-based and processed food categories for supplements, prohibited and allowed ingredients, making therapeutic claims, and what to include in a food label.

In the upcoming Part 2 article, we will discuss the detailed requirements for FDA approval and the corresponding fees and charges.

What are Food or Dietary Supplements?

As defined by Administrative Order No. 2014-0029, these are processed food products that help supplement the diet. A food supplement may contain dietary ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and other dietary substances made from plant, animal, natural, or artificial matter. It may take various forms, including those of liquids, capsules, pills, tablets, powders, and gels. It is not marketed as a conventional food or as replacement for drugs and medicines.

Does my dietary supplement fall under the Food or Drug category?

Based on FDA Philippines Officer Order No. 22 s. 1991, your vitamin or mineral product will be classified as drug-based if it meets the following conditions:

1) Has clinical therapeutic claim/s with regards to a specific vitamin deficiency or disease;

2) Has a concentration per dosage form of greater than 150 percent of the Philippine Dietary Reference Index (PDRI) for water-soluble vitamins and/or greater than 105 percent of the PDRI for fat-soluble vitamins;

3) Takes the form of a pharmaceutical dosage or injectable; and

4) Has additional pharmacologically-active ingredients present

On the other hand, your product will be categorized as a food supplement (more specifically a “processed food”) if:

1) Its indication is that of “Dietary or Health Supplement;

2) Its concentration per dosage form is less than 105% of the PDRI for fat- soluble vitamins and/or less than 150 percent for water-soluble vitamins;

3) It may be available in both non-pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical dosage form except parenterals;

4) It is available as either a purified or a natural product; and

5) It contains no additional pharmacologically-active ingredients.

Under FDA Philippines Administrative Order No. 2014-0029 (Annex A), food products are further classified according to microbiological risk: low, medium, and high. If your dietary supplement contains herbs and botanicals and/or products with other nutritional substances, it will be categorized as a high-risk food; if it has vitamins and minerals and/or amino acids, it will be considered as a medium-risk food. The authorization process and the inspection priorities of the FDA would depend on these subcategories.

What ingredients can be included in my health supplement?

FDA-approved food supplements in the Philippines must meet the regulatory body’s key standards. Among these is the ASEAN Negative List, which details substances that should not be used in health supplements. The prohibited items include:

1) Deadly Nightshade

2) Marijuana

3) Hemlock

4) Chaparral

5) Opium / Poppy

For its part, FDA Philippines Circular 2006-016 enumerates all authorized food additives. These are some examples of what we call additives today:

1) Artificial sweeteners

2) Emulsifiers

3) Food Colors

4) Flavor Enhancers

5) Preservatives

Any food additive and functional classes that will be adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) shall be automatically included as an addendum to the circular’s Appendix for Food Additives.

What kind of claims can my food supplement make?

Food product claims are regulated under FDA Philippines Circular 2007-002. This circular adopts the CAC Guidelines for Use of Nutrition and Health Claims as its standard for evaluating nutrition and health claims made in advertisements and food labels. It must be noted that products that make unproven claims could be banned from being sold in the Philippine market.

Other relevant regulations include:

1) Administrative order 2014-0029: prohibits the use of curative and therapeutic claims under Chapter VI, Part C of the Guidelines in the Registration of Processed Food Products.

2) Administrative Order 2014-0030: precludes the declaration of misleading and prohibited claims, specifically those in the labels of prepacked foods, under Section VII.

What should be on the label of my dietary supplement?

FDA Philippines Administrative Order No. 88-B s. 1984, as amended by Administrative Order 2014-0030, regulates the labeling of prepacked food, particularly food supplements. Its main provisions are:

1) The following details must be included on the label:

  • Product name
  • Brand name and/or trademark
  • Full ingredient list
  • Net content

Note: Either a per volume or per quantity indication is allowed. For multi-packs, the total quantity as well as the number of individual portions must be indicated.

  • Name and address of the manufacturer and/or repacker, packer, importer, trader, and distributor

Note: For imported products, the country of origin as well as the complete name and address of the importer should be indicated.

  • Lot identification
  • Storage conditions
  • Expiration date
  • Food allergen information (to be mentioned below the ingredient list)

Note: The following allergens and its derivative products must be clearly indicated on the label:

a) Cereals containing gluten
b) Crustaceans
c) Eggs
d) Fish
e) Milk, including lactose
f) Peanuts
g) Soybean
h) Sulfites
i) Tree nut and other nuts
  • Instructions for use
  • Nutrition information

Notes:

Full nutritional declaration is required, especially if a product claims to contain certain nutrients. Only foods for special purposes, medical or otherwise, are exempted. The quantities must be displayed in a tabular form and declared according to the portion size or a specific weight or volume. Vitamins and minerals are to be expressed in mg or µg. The exceptions are Vitamin A, D, and E, which are to be expressed in IU (International Units).

The indicated recommended daily allowance must conform to the Philippine Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intakes (RENI) for male adults aged 19 to 29. Foods for specific groups may use values applicable to such age groups, which will have to be indicated in the labeling. The actual nutrient content of vitamins and minerals should at no point be lower than 80 percent of what is declared on the label. There is no upper limit of overages for micro-nutrients and fiber though.

2) Additives must be properly labeled according to CAC standards.

3) All mandatory information on labels must be in English and/or Filipino. For imported products, the use of other languages is allowed but they should also carry a corresponding English translation.

4) For FDA-approved food supplements in the Philippines, the following statement in Filipino must be included in every advertisement or promotional effort as per Administrative Order No 2010-008:

“IMPORTANT REMINDER: THIS PRODUCT IS NOT A DRUG AND SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR ANY TYPE OF ILLNESS” (non-official translation)

This message should be printed in a size of at least one-third of the size of the largest letter or logo. It must be prominently printed using capital and bold letters using either Arial or Tahoma font.

5) Qualification for other standards such as for halal (Muslim) and kosher (Jewish) may be included in the label but would require proper substantiation. The assigned registration number may also be included on the label.

Need help with registering your food or dietary supplement?

If we handle it, you are guaranteed to have your FDA-approved food supplements in the Philippines. Let us help you. Contact us here and stay tuned for our next article on the registration process, requirements, and fees.

FDA CPR Certificate of Product Registration Requirements and Application Process in the Philippines

Certificate of Product Registration FDA Phils
Certificate of Product Registration FDA Phils.

Before you can start selling food items, cosmetics, or drugs in the Philippines, you need to secure first a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Obtaining a CPR for your product involves knowing if it needs one, having the proper documents and requirements, and applying for it using the FDA’s system. Take note that each product being registered will have its own CPR. This means that each variant, flavor, and dosage will have its own certificate—basically, each item must be registered individually. There is no bulk processing option for FDA CPR application on their website.

Need to know more about how to apply for a Certificate of Product Registration from the FDA? Keep reading.

Click the links below to go directly to that part of this article:

  1. Products with Required Certificate of Product Registration (FDA CPR)
  2. Requirements for FDA CPR
  3. How to Get Certificate of Product Registration from FDA
  4. Automatic CPR Renewal
  5. Penalty for Products with no CPR

Products with Required Certificate of Product Registration (FDA CPR)

Which products need a CPR? The following items do:

1) Food Products (canned goods, bottled beverages, infant formulae, etc.)

2) Medicines, Pharmaceuticals, and Over-the-Counter Drugs

3) Medical Devices

4) Food Supplements (vitamins, minerals, energy boosters, etc.)

5) Toys

6) Veterinary Products (pet medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.)

7) Hazardous Household Products and Urban Pesticides (cleaning supplies, disinfectant sprays, etc.)

Do cosmetics need a Certificate of Product Registration?

Cosmetic products do not have a CPR, and instead are required to have a product notification. While the FDA needs to be informed regarding such cosmetics, the procedure outlined here is for obtaining a CPR only.

Requirements for FDA Certificate of Product Registration

If your product is listed above, you are required to process a CPR for your product. The following are the requirements for doing so:

1) A valid LTO or License to Operate which can be obtained from the FDA

2) A clear, scanned, and colored copy of loose labels of all packaging sizes for the products (or equivalent, as defined by FDA), as well as pictures of the product from all angles and in different packaging sizes. This allows easy recognition of a product as the same one being registered.

  • For food supplements, include blister packs, Alu-Alu packs, and secondary packaging (i.e. paper box or cardboard box).

3) Other requirements for traders, wholesalers, and distributors of locally manufactured food products / for importers and distributors

4) Documents to support product claims, such as:

  • Technical/nutrition health studies or reports
  • Market research studies
  • Certificate of analysis, quantitative analysis, and computations
  • Scientific reports or studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Supporting certificates to allow the use of “Sangkap Pinoy”, Halal, Organic, Kosher, and other claims in compliance with current labeling requirements

5) Certificate of Analysis stating essential details to determine product compliance to food standards and regulations for the following:

  • Medium to high-risk products with standards of identity such as food for infants and young children, foods intended for special medical purposes, bottled water, etc) the certificate of analysis must be uploaded. The list of low, medium, and high risks can be found here on the FDA website.
  • Fortified food products covered by R.A. 8176 (iodized salt) and R.A. 8976 (cooking oil, flour, and refined sugar)

6) For food supplements, additional requirements include:

  • A stability study of the actual food supplement
  • Safety data, such as toxicity tests, must be attached to address safety concerns regarding the product.

7) Actual representative product sample of food supplement (for initial application only, and is not needed during CPR renewal).

Note: This is a list of general requirements; additional requirements and procedures may be required by the FDA depending on the product being registered. Confused? You can ask us about it.

Once you have these requirements, you can opt to register these products online using the FDA e-registration system, which can be found here.

How to Get Certificate of Product Registration from FDA

The following is the basic CPR e-registration procedure (as per FDA Circular 2016-014):

1) Secure your FDA E-registration log-in details.

2) Log in to the FDA website e-portal.

3) For first-time product applications, click on “New Case.”

4) Type the details of needed information of product, such as brand name, product name, food category, list of ingredients, product specifications, and other pertinent information.

5) Upload the required documents. The documents needed vary per product and if the product is for export or not. Please check the FDA website for more details.

Note: Maximum 2MB per attachment in PDF or PNG format, and 25 MB max for all attachments per application

6) Print Order of Payment and pay corresponding fees either in person at the FDA Main Office located in Alabang, through the Bancnet online payment gateway option as per FDA Advisory 2015-021, or whatever FDSA recommends on their site.

7) You can track the application progress through the process map indicated on the FDA website.

Automatic CPR Renewal

To make CPR renewal automatic, the following conditions must be met:

1) The renewal application must be filed before the expiration date of the CPR;

2) The automatic renewal fee must be paid prior to the filing of application; and

3) There should be no condition stated at the back of the issued Certificate of Product Registration.

In case of a condition, compliance with the condition must be met and proven by including a scanned copy of the acknowledgment letter from the FDA indicating that the condition has been met.

Penalty for Products with no CPR

What if you release the product to the market without the proper certification? Not only is this illegal, but once FDA is notified, they will issue a cease and desist order. They will take your products off the market AND require you to pay fines AND process CPRs for your products that were taken off the shelves.

Going against the law can destroy the name of your business as well. The FDA issues public health warnings against products without CPRs, and this means bad publicity for your brand.

All in all, the hassles and penalties brought about by not doing things properly is just not worth the risk.

Does the application for an FDA CPR sound too tedious?

If applying for a CPR sounds like a hassle to do it yourself, then let us help! Our team of experts can help you with the whole FDA process, not just for product registration. If you have any inquiries, you may contact us here.

How to Apply for FDA LTO (License to Operate) in the Philippines

Interested in FDA LTO application (License to Operate from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration) but don’t know where to start?

This new guide gives you a complete step-by-step process on how to apply for an FDA LTO in 2020.

While there are quite a few articles online on FDA LTO application, they are mostly outdated.

One major change to the process is that it is now done online via https://eportal.fda.gov.ph (the integrated application form may be found here).

Once processed and approved, the LTO will be mailed to you; no need to pick it up from regional FDA centers.

Click the links below to go directly to that part of this article:

  1. What is an LTO? Why would you need one?
  2. How to Apply for FDA eLTO User Account
  3. License to Operate Requirements
  4. Steps for FDA LTO Application
  5. Tips to make application easier and faster

What is an LTO or License to Operate? Why would you need one?

An LTO allows you to legally import, distribute, sell wholesale, and/or manufacture food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. It is also a requirement before you can obtain a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR), a seal of approval which indicates that your product complies with health, safety, and technical standards set by the FDA in the Philippines.

Operating without a license can spell disaster for your business. If caught, your LTO may be suspended, revoked, canceled, or disapproved upon renewal. Likewise, existing licenses that were not renewed after one-hundred twenty (120) days from the date of expiration will be automatically canceled by the FDA. Not only that, but the company will automatically be delisted from the FDA’s list of licensed establishments, so be sure to renew on time.

Important Reminder: Only residents of the Philippines (either Filipino citizens or alien holders of resident visas) and majority Filipino-owned companies may apply for LTO.

All guidelines and penalties may be found on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov.ph

 

How to Apply for FDA eLTO User Account

Per FDA Circular 2016-004 (Procedures on the Use of the New Application Form for License to Operate through the FDA Electronic Portal), the application process has been moved online. With the goal of increasing transparency, accessibility, and efficiency of the process, this decision has been especially beneficial for businesses based outside Metro Manila.

Before you can access the E-portal, you must first create a User Account, the application for which is not as straightforward as what you may be used to. Instead of a simple sign-up button, it instead involves sending a few emails. Here’s how to create a new User Account for the FDA E-Portal System:

Creating eLTO User Account
  • First, accomplish an authorization letter for the eLTO User Account Application. This will designate a specific individual as eLTO account holder.
  • Next, send an email to request for a User Account to the FDA’s Public Assistance, Information and Receiving (PAIR) unit via pair@fda.gov.ph with the following format:

SUBJECT: Request for eLTO User Account

BODY:

a. E-mail address (preferably company email address)
b. Name of the authorized company representative (preferably permanently employed and not merely a consultant)
c. Position in the company
d. Contact Number
e. Company Name

  • Don’t forget to attach a scanned Authorization Letter in PDF format. Be sure that it is completed (signed and notarized) and virus-free.

Below is a sample email provided by the FDA:

From: https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/330042/FDA%20Circular%20No.%202016-004.pdf
About the eLTO User Account

Please take note that the User Account details will be sent to the company email address provided in the body of the email, not to the original sender’s email address. User Accounts are usually issued within two (2) days upon receipt of the completed request by the FDA in the Philippines. Requests received after 5:00 pm on regular working days, holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays shall be processed on the next working day.

Each User Account is unique to one company and is valid for one (1) year. Requests for replacing the authorized company representative as well as account reactivation must be sent to pair@fda.gov.ph at least three (3) months before the expiration of the User Account.

Once you have a valid User Account in hand, the E-Portal can now be accessed. Filling up the forms and uploading the documents can now be done via the portal. The E-Portal accepts new, renewal, and variation applications.

The accomplishment of the eLTO may be done via http://www.fda.gov.ph.

License to Operate Requirements

The following are the License to Operate requirements for initial and renewal applications. Ensure that all documents are secured before applying to avoid processing delays.

Requirements for FDA LTO - Initial and Renewal Application

FDA LTO Initial Requirements:

  • Completed Application Form with Declaration and Undertaking
  • Proof of Business Name Registration
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Site Master File (for manufacturers of drugs, devices and cosmetics)
  • Fees payment

FDA LTO Renewal Requirements:

  • Completed Application Form with Declaration and Undertaking
  • Payment of fees

Now that you have all the requirements, the application for the actual license can now follow.

Steps for FDA LTO Application

Applying for an initial FDA LTO consists of the following steps: filing, evaluation, and inspection. An application is considered filed only if all necessary requirements are met, including payment of fees. After filing, the FDA will evaluate all LTO applications to determine whether to grant the license or not. Lastly, a pre-opening inspection shall be conducted for manufacturers. In addition, all establishments covered under the FDA may be inspected anytime by the agency to ensure proper compliance with its set rules and regulations.

  • Log-in to the e-Portal using the User Account provided by FDA at http://www.fda.gov.ph.
  • Click “New Case” on the upper left-hand side and select “License to Operate v2.0” which can be found under Electronic Licensing.
  • Make sure you’ve read and fully understood the “Declaration and Undertaking” and click the “I Agree” button before proceeding.
  • Under the General Information tab, select the appropriate Product Type, Primary Activity, and Type of Application from their respective drop-down menus.
  • (Each primary activity has its applicable sub-options. Accomplish the General Information appropriately).
  • Under Establishment Information, provide the complete establishment name, TIN, address, and contact details. Use the Show Map Tool and move the arrow to the exact address of the establishment and click the “Submit” button.
  • Provide needed information under “Details of the Authorized Officer” and “Details of the Applicant.”Upload the required documents (depending on LTO type). Make sure documents are in PDF format.
  • Double-check the total amount to be paid by looking at the Order of Payment section, which can be downloaded if needed.
  • Payment can be made using existing FDA mechanisms.
  • Please note: Under the “Assign Task” section, please click the “Continue” button in order for the application to be processed by the FDA.

Here are some tips to make application easier and faster:

Tips for Faster and Easier FDA LTO Application

Tip 1: Follow documentary requirements listed in Administrative Order (AO) 2016-0003 (“Guidelines on Unified Licensing Requirements and Procedures of the Food and Drug Administration”):

  • Submit files in PDF format and ensure that there are no bugs, viruses, or anything that can jeopardize the system of the FDA.
  • All documents must be scanned and compiled with 100-150 dots-per-inch (dpi).
  • All document file names must be less than 40 characters, should not contain the following characters: \ ? / : * ” > <

Tip 2: Make sure to submit all forms completely. Do not forget to attach files to emails before sending them.

Tip 3: Get assistance from DAYANAN Business Consultancy! With our FDA Consulting services, you would no longer have to stress and fret over the LTO application process.

After you’re done applying, expect your FDA License to Operate (LTO) in the mail! We hope these tips answer your queries on how to apply for an FDA LTO. If you would like to avail of our FDA consulting services, you may contact us here.

FDA Consulting Philippines