HA NOI (VNS)— Amid increasing fears about food safety, Viet Nam aims to cut the contamination rate of plant-origin products by 10 per cent next year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced at a workshop on the quality of agro-forestry and fishery products on Monday.
In 2012, agriculture and rural development departments in 46 localities discovered 961 units violating regulations, accounting for 18.7 per cent of the approximately 12,000 agro-forestry and fishery production and trade establishments inspected, said the ministry's plant protection department director Nguyen Xuan Hong.
Inspectors found that 6.8 per cent of samples inspected contained unacceptably high pesticide residues.
Hong said the department was working with provincial authorities to find out where these products came from and take measures to tackle the situation.
The department also tested nearly 700 samples of domestic and imported plant protection chemicals and found 11 samples of imported chemicals that failed to meet safety standards.
The department would increase inspections and quarantines and test more samples of fruit and vegetables, both domestic and foreign products, from now until the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival, Hong said.
The ministry decided to punish more than 5,900 cases of violations this year with a total fine of more than VND10 billion (US$480,000). Most violations concerned using banned substances in cattle-feed production and failing to provide a clean environment for aquaculture.
Minister Cao Duc Phat asked relevant agencies to implement measures to ensure food safety and hygiene, tracing the origin of foods of all kinds and focusing on essential farm produce such as fruits, vegetables, chickens, pork and seafood.
Management would be tightened throughout the production process, while qualified producers would be encouraged and violators would be strictly punished, he said.
The Laws on Plant Protection and Animal Health, which would create a legal framework for handling such cases, were expected to be completed in 2013 and 2014, respectively, Phat said.
Deputy Director of Viet Nam Food Administration Nguyen Thanh Phong told Tin Tuc (News) Newspaper that food production businesses were always encouraged to meet international standards on food safety and hygiene such as ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).
Meeting these standards, which take into account criteria such as proper equipment and human resources, would not only increase businesses' prestige and competitiveness but also help protect consumers' health, he said. — VNS