Food safety need practical measures

HÀ NỘI — Practical and specific measures are needed instead of general and vague directions from authorities to ensure clean production and food safety.

The statement was made by National Assembly Vice Chairman Phùng Quốc Hiển during a meeting held by the 14th National Assembly Inspection Committee with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on the implementation of food safety policies and law from 2011 to 2016.

The inspection committee reported no cases of illegal documents and decrees being issued, and praised authorities’ efforts in managing food safety.

However, Hiển also said that despite ministries’ claims that food safety legal documents have been improved, various food safety issues have been a constant worry to the public, and he ordered ministries to consider modifying the administrative violations law to make it more practical.

MARD said the agricultural produces’ food safety has improved. Agricultural producers observe food safety regulations more strictly, more ‘safe vegetables’ farms are springing up and microbe and chemical contamination decreased, the MARD reports reads.

According to the MoH, from 2011 to 2016, 1,000 cases of food poisoning were recorded, affecting 30,000 people, and resulting in 164 deaths. On average, 170 food poisoning involving 5,000 people and 30 deaths take place every year.

Health ministry reports also point to high risks of poisoning in canteens in industrial parks, as evidenced by the number of mass poisoning cases occurring lately.

Representatives from MoH and MARD blamed the food poisoning on rampant abuse of chemicals, antibiotics and illegal additives in food production, cross-border smuggling of food and flawed use of food origin identification and quality labels.

According to the MoIT, during the same period, the ministry issued fines of VNĐ143.4 billion (US$6.3 million) for 55,580 food safety violations cases.

An issue that the MoIT still hasn’t solved is the follow-up assessment of production facilities after they are granted licences. — VNS

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About the author  ⁄ AmCham Vietnam

AmCham is an independent association of companies with the objective of promoting trade and investment between Vietnam and the U.S. With two chapters, one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi, our membership of 700 companies and 1,500 representatives is unified by a commitment to promote trade and investment between Vietnam and the United States.

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