HA NOI — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has frozen exports of 15 varieties of fruit and vegetable to the European Union following complaints by the block that some Vietnamese goods were infected with insects and worms.
|Workers of Duy Lan Farm in central Binh Thuan Province package dragon fruit for export. The trade of 15 varieties of fruit and vegetables to the European Union has been frozen. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the ministry's Plant Protection Department, announced the move at a press conference in Ha Noi earlier this week.
Among the exported vegetables that have been temporarily suspended are chilli, basil and coriander.
The European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers announced last year that products of 50 Vietnamese fruit and vegetable firms exported to the EU hadn't met quality standards and that some were infected with worms.
The commission told Viet Nam that if there were five more batches of Vietnamese goods exported to the EU between January 5, 2012 and January 15, 2013 were found to be substandard, the bloc would consider halting imports of fruit and vegetables from Viet Nam.
Hong said his department asked 160 Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters to ensure the quality of their goods was up to scratch last August. Despite the request, three batches of fruit and vegetables exported to the EU this year have been found to be substandard.
As a result, he said there was a high likelihood Vietnamese goods would be denied entry to the EU and so suspended exports.
Hong said the worms, bacteria and insects found in the exported goods were not found in the EU but were common in Viet Nam.
He said the plant protection department had established an urgent inspection team to check the country's fruit and vegetable storage facilities and the quality of agricultural exports.
He said that from now on, all fruit and vegetable exports to the EU would have to be authorised by the department. The department is also drafting a circular setting out the necessary hygiene controls for fruit and vegetables destined for the EU.
Nguyen Van Ky, general secretary of the Viet Nam Fruit & Vegetables Association, said enterprises needed to tightly supervise every stage of production.
"It's necessary to have thorough and long-term solutions for production phases in order to insure the prestige of domestic fruit and vegetable products is maintained," he said.
Viet Nam last year exported US$628 million worth of fruit and vegetables, up nearly 50 per cent against the previous year, the ministry said.
The country was among the top five nations in the world in terms of fruit and vegetable production last year. — VNS